March 1, 2013
The wholesale slaughter of children sparked an unprecedented opening for change in this country. Killing children broke something fundamental in our culture. On that sad day, it felt as if there was a giant ripping in our society -- yielding a gaping hole in all that was sacred and right. It was like watching the Twin Towers collapse all over again, but now it was our children. Many have asked if we have waited too long for action, the answer is simply no. Babies and guns do not belong in the same sentence. Assault weapons must never again be used to kill children.
It’s that opening – the gaping wound -- that is inspiring our President Obama and Vice President Biden. This unlikely duo appear to be fueled by the fire of what is possible, and are driving a Mack truck through this opening right now -- whether it is to push through the broadest gun safety legislation; or enact comprehensive immigration reform; or to raise the minimum wage; or end violence toward women; or to support gay marriage.
Watching our President Obama the evening of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School – it was clear that he would leap tall buildings to save the children and people of this country. It had become a Holy Crusade and compromise is off the table. Witness the fervor with which this team is working to move their Cabinet nominations forward even for beleaguered Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. Republican shenanigans are not being tolerated even on their home turf, the House of Representatives. These folks can rant and rave for the cameras (and they do), but are falling flat with no run way. The President’s approval ratings are soaring even in the shadow of the latest, manufactured financial machination of the ‘sequester.’ And it is this fundamental lack of empathy and understanding that may be the down fall of the Republican Party as we know it today.
Frankly, the President is done turning himself into a human pretzel and for this we must rejoice. You just can’t compromise with folks that hate you and all that you stand for. It’s a travesty that it took this horrific loss of lives in Sandy Hook to galvanize the American people – but it did. Unbelievably, today one child still “dies every three hours from gun violence in the United States.” Everyone knows that gun safety legislation is not about the Second Amendment, but rather about sustaining a modern civilization.
The winds of change are upon us. Just witness the President’s news conference today on the impasse over what is called sequestration. He’s not backing down.
October 22, 2012
Obama clearly won. Clearly.
Romney got of several lies that were not refuted, but several that did get refuted. After a while Romney was left just repeating his memorized script -- 4 times? Am I right that it was 4 times?
I wonder, is that ALL Romney has - just lying?
I saw Van Jones on CNN holding up an Etch-a-Sketch.
FYI - Obama never said that unemployment would be 5.4% by now. Romney repeated that lie ... how many time?
August 8, 2012
The Romney campaign has turned to a strategy of swamping the public with flat-out, blatant lies, one after another, again and again, endlessly and lavishly repeated. They do this because they are making a calculation that it will work! So what is going on? And can democracy survive this assault?
The Growing List Of Lies
This week's lie is the "Obama gutted welfare reform" nonsense. See Bill Scher's must-read response, Romney's Welfare Lie: A Betrayal Of Conservatism. The reporting conveys the Romney message, like this: Romney accuses Obama of dismantling welfare reform. The lie is driven home by a massive $$-driven carpet bombing of ads.
The next-most recent lie was the "Obama is trying to keep military families from voting" lie. This lie, repeated over and over, coordinated with outside groups, reinforces the "Democrats are anti-military" narrative.
Before that was the "You didn't build that" lie, where the Romney campaign doctored audio to make it sound as though President Obama said something he didn't say. (And got away with it.) This lie, repeated over and over, reinforces the "Democrats are anti-business" narrative.
This one on welfare reinforces the "Democrats take your money and give it to black people" narrative. "We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good, hard work," said Romney, promising to make them work good and hard.
Rachel Maddow's blog has been keeping track of the Romney lies, and it is a loooooong list.
How It Is Done
Here is how it works. Each lie is developed in the right's machine, using something currently in the news to reinforce an ongoing narrative about "liberals." The lie percolates up through a well-worn process where the germ of the story is planted in smaller outlets, and variations of it are tried out until one seems to resonate. Next, larger right-wing media operations pick up the developed "story" and drive it further. It gets amplified on the radio, FOX News and the right's newspapers. Finally the corporate media takes it out to more and more people, covering themselves with the claim they are just "reporting" on a "story" that is "already out there."
One way or another the lie is repeated and repeated and repeated (and repeated) in various forms through various channels that reach various target groups, until it becomes a "truth." Once it has become a "truth" the Romney campaign uses this "truth" to claim Democrats and President Obama are harming the country.
The Solyndra story is a good example. The right developed a lie about "cronyism," claiming that a Democratic donor is "tied to" solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra because a foundation with his name on it was an investor in the company. Because a foundation was the investor there was no possibility for the donor to benefit. But that doesn't matter, they used this "tie" to spread a lie the Obama administration was steering money into someone's pocket, and they repeated it and repeated it and repeated it.
After months of repetition of this lie, the Romney campaign understood that the lie has become a "truth," and is using that "truth" themselves in campaign ads and Romney's stump speech! Romney talks about "cronyism" in the Obama administration, understanding that much of the public now believes this is established fact.
The Romney campaign is limiting media access to the candidate and offering little in the way of substantive policy proposals. They are instead using press releases, advertisements, message-trained surrogates, cooperative media like FOX, Drudge, talk radio, allied newspapers and the right's blogosphere, while coordinating with massively-funded outside groups like Crossroads GPS, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation and others.
This is a key thing to get, the Romney campaign believes that they can win this election using lies and propaganda as "truths" to drive their campaign story. They are making the calculation that the right's media machine has become sufficiently powerful for their version of reality to reach enough of the public, and that it is sticking in their minds as "truths!"
They are also making the calculation -- so far validated by the media response -- that there will be little if any pushback from "mainstream" media. They trust that the media will look the other way, report lies as "one side says X, the other says Y," tell the public "both sides do it," and say this is just par for the course.
But if there is media resistance, they are calculating that the right's own media power can override any pushback that might come. They might also believe they can turn media resistance to their advantage. Decades have been spent convincing their followers to see potentially objective information sources as "the liberal media," enemy of conservatism, and any pushback for lying could just increase support for their campaign.
So the Romney campaign, like the recent Bush administration, are conscious that they do not need to work with facts. Instead they believe they can "create truth" through the manipulation of perception. This is hardly new in Repubican circles. The phrase "reality-based community" came out of the previous Republican administration's calculations of what the public will and won't learn about. This famous quote from Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush by Ron Suskind, explains,
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
What Does The Public "Know?"
If you are reading this you are likely very well-informed. You pay attention to the mainstream news, as well as read various progressive sources. But much of the public is not very well-informed, and faces the problem of not knowing what sources to trust. Subjected to a constant battering of corporate/conservative propaganda and disinformation, they are busy, and not ready or able to do the extensive research needed to make informed decisions.
Progressives and "liberals" try to solve this problem by trying to help people get informed. Conservatives, however, try to use it to their advantage, spreading self-serving misinformation.
The well-funded propagandists study and understand the shorthand methods people use to determine what to believe. This is the reason for the ongoing attacks on the credibility of what would normally be seen as trustworthy sources, like PBS, NPR and what the rest of what has been disparaged for decades as "the liberal media." This is also the reason for the establishment of so many corporate-funded conservative "institutes" and other academic and authoritative-sounding organizations that issue "studies" and "reports" that always echo the corporate-conservative positions.
The "mainstream" corporate media has also undergone a change over recent decades. Many outlets now see themselves as businesses with a product that has to appeal to "the market" to make money. They no longer see their mission to be informing the public so citizens have the information that is needed to function in a democracy, but instead as "maximizing shareholder return," by "driving traffic" and whatever else it takes to sell advertising. And many people working as "journalists" understand that advancing their own careers means not making waves by being perceived as "leftist" or "anti-business."
Steve Benen calls this a "test for the political world," writing,
How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame? This lie about welfare policy comes on the heels of Romney's lie about voting rights in Ohio, which came on the heels of Romney's lies about the economy; which came on the heels of Romney's lies about health care; which came on the heels of Romney's lies about taxes.
The Republican nominee for president is working under the assumption that he can make transparently false claims, in writing and in campaign advertising, with impunity. Romney is convinced that there are no consequences for breathtaking dishonesty.
The test, then, comes down to a simple question: is he right?
This is a test for the political world, as well as a challenge to the viability of our democratic system. We can expect this to continue and accelerate until election day, driven by hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires and their huge corporations. The question is, will enough of our misinformed public be tricked by the lies? If this succeeds, what kind of country will we become? What will be left?
March 16, 2012
Here is the Obama video, The Road We’ve Traveled, if you haven't seen it yet:
February 17, 2012
This is the 3rd anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as President Obama's "stimulus." Republicans say it made the economy worse. Let's see...
House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday, "Today, there's no denying the fact that his 'stimulus' policies not only failed, they made things worse." Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney released an ad that says, "What did we get with all the spending?" text in the ad reads. "24 million Americans struggling for work. Record long term unemployment. 4th straight trillion dollar deficit."
So What Happened?
In the following charts, the left side, where it is red, shows how things were going before the stimulus, and the right side, where it is blue, shows the effect of President Obama's policies. Click any chart for a larger view.
Jobs: (the left side, with all the lines going down, down, down, is before the stimulus. The right side, with the dramatic reversal, with all the lines going up, up, up, is the stimulus taking effect.)
Private sector jobs: (the left side, with all the lines going down, down, down, is before the stimulus. The right side, with the dramatic reversal, with all the lines going up, up, up, is the stimulus taking effect.)
Economic growth: (the left side, with all the lines going down, down, down, is before the stimulus. The right side, with the dramatic reversal, with all the lines going up, up, up, is the stimulus taking effect.)
Republicans also say the stimulus caused the debt. So where did the growth in public debt really come from? (Remember, when Obama took office, Bush's last budget had a $1.4 trillion deficit, which Republicans say was Obama's fault.)
Update: Michael Linden, Director of Tax and Budget Policy at the Center for American Progress looks a the stimulus "in a new video by looking at three broad but important indicators for the American economy. All three were in bad shape before the stimulus began, and all three turned around at almost exactly the moment the stimulus started. Coincidence?"
September 9, 2011
President Obama has taken a step in the right direction with his speech and jobs plan. It was a small step - but it has to be to present Republicans with the choice to cooperate or get pushed out of the way. If this passes it is a win for jobs and the economy -- and therefore the President's re-election. If Republicans block it, the President wins because voters will push Republicans out and the country will be able to get moving again. But it all depends on follow-through. The President has to keep out there, pounding on this and only this every single day until there is a vote. Every. Single. Day. That is the key.
The Plan - Barely Enough
The American Jobs Act is a mix of extensions of current efforts and new tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Extend and add to the Social Security tax cut. Cut various taxes for hiring new workers and returning veterans. Money to states to prevent laying off even more teachers. Modernize schools to hire construction workers. The total including tax cuts is around $450 billion.
If passed this will help and people will be able to feel the difference. It isn't enough, but there is a reason for that. It is small in order to keep Republicans from having any excuse to block it.
The Republican Choice
It has become pretty clear that Republicans are blocking ... everything ... in order to keep the economy from getting better, because doing this hurts the President's re-election chances. So the President is giving them a package they have to vote for, or explain why not. This is a win-win because passing this helps the country and the economy and the unemployed. And not passing this helps the country and the economy and the unemployed because it exposes exactly who is behind the lack of progress in Washington that everyone is so upset about.
The President has to be fully engaged on this one. A few words are not going to win it. The only thing that will win this is for the President to use the "bully pulpit" and be speaking about it every single day until there is a vote. Nothing else will do. This is all up to him now. He has taken the first small step toward pulling us all out of the mess we have been in. He has to recognize that it was only a small step and there is a big, big fight in front of him, and that he has to be fully engaged on this every single day until there is a vote.
Every. Single. Day. Until. There. Is. A. Vote. Nothing else will do. If the President does this we win and that means he wins.
September 7, 2011
This past Friday night in Washington, a New York Mets pitcher threw the type of pitch President Obama must use in his march to stop any new proposals to cut Social Security if he plans to make it through the game of the deficit talks and his reelection. In the recent past the President and his teams have pitched a slew of failed curveballs that would cut our Social Security. The number 43 Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey helped beat the Nationals 7-3 with his slow velocity, highly unpredictable knuckleball. The 44th President and his multitude of committees have taken an approach to cutting the deficit that replicates a tied baseball game, with no end in sight. Could knuckle balls from a President battling to win the game, save the economy, and win reelection save the tied ball game called the deficit debate? Let’s take a look at the tape.
R.A. Dickey has been pitching great this season, and has the best earned run average of the starters on the Mets but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his record of 7-11, which reflects injuries on the Mets but also the poorest run support from hitters out of all the Mets starting pitchers. It’s unclear to Mets fans why Dickey hasn’t gotten the run support he so deserves, just as it’s unclear to the general public why we haven’t gotten the support Social Security deserves from the administration.
If the President throws a Social Security curveball that cuts our benefits to the GOP team trying to beat him, he ought to get ready not to receive any run support, not just from Democrats and the left, but also from the independents and moderate Republicans his advisers are so intent on courting again. By attempting a pitch that doesn’t appeal to his base, independent voters, and moderate Republicans, he may lose the game, the season, and ultimately his Presidency.
But President Obama can still throw an amazing Dickey-like pitch to the GOP’s deficit, defeat the nonsense, not cut Social Security benefits, and win reelection. If Obama fights for Social Security, America’s fans will cheer for him and we’ll give him all the run support he needs to win in 2012.
Social Security has remained one of America’s most successful programs for 76 years. Before it existed and since it’s existed, Wall Street and right-wing conservatives have been telling us how much it stinks, hoping we might one day believe such lies through repetition. Even popular Republican President Dwight Eisenhower recognized how cutting it would be plain “stupid.” But that’s exactly what each of the deficit groups have attempted to do, each throwing their own curveball that would lead to Social Security cuts.
The President started his deficit pitching rotation with the grizzled, often irrelevant old-timers Bowles and Simpson, who proposed to cut Social Security with the indifference of players who knew their time had passed. He then hoped the journeymen Gang of 6 could take on the deficit, but the bipartisan group of men never seemed to materialize on the playing field. Obama’s team, “America,” never got far in the batting order without loading the bases against the “GOP Deficit” team, which lead up to another call to the bullpen. An enthusiastic reliever, Vice President Biden came charging on to the field to lead his bipartisan “gang of dudes” with every intention to save the game, and no ability to corral the Republicans who calmly watched every one of his pitches thrown for balls float by and hit every strike for an intentional foul ball, upping the pitch count until Biden’s arm had vanished.
Then came the President himself, rolling up his sleeves and bringing back the long vanished player-coach, determined to get the save for America, but giving the GOP a few hits and intentional walks in the process so he could get the job done. He’s out on the field and he appears determined to win for America, at any cost to his future as a pitcher and as our President, but the fans are hopeful he’ll win for his future and ours.
The President even told us about his curveball to the GOP, who seem determined to fight against America, 1 minute in to this video, when he acknowledges that he’d offered the Republican Speaker a deal to cut Social Security, which suggests he may throw the same bad curve again if the Supercommittee wants to take it up.
In the next couple of weeks President Obama may let loose with another Social Security curveballl, telling us we need a COLA cut for Social Security. But America isn’t certain whether player-coach Obama would put the important program on the chopping block again for the Supercommittee and the GOP Deficit. This pitch to the GOP Deficit leads to one place—a lost game for the President, and a lost future for Democrats. But a well-placed knuckleball that leaves Social Security out of the ball game and out of the deficit talks would help America and Obama win. If the President throws a slow, hanging knuckleball that’s tough for Republicans to hit but that his own team can cheer for, he’ll win the hearts of Americans including Democrats, independents and reasonable Republicans, whether the Washington Republicans try to screw over America again or not with attempted cuts to Social Security.
September 5, 2011
But if Obama loses, he gets to make speeches to rich people for a pile of money and maybe join the Carlyle Group or one of those other things that you get as a reward for making sure that no one saves your national economy.
So, if you're Obama, do you really want to win the next election?
September 2, 2011
Mr. President, you have to go around the Republicans and create jobs for the people.
I wrote a post yesterday that started with this:
"Here is a fact about bipartisanship and civility in Washington: the Republicans in Congress will obstruct anything President Obama proposes to create jobs and help the economy, period. A bad economy helps them in the coming elections, and that is that. Deal with it. If you want to see results on jobs and economic growth you are going to have to get around a Republican House of Representatives intent on blocking jobs and growth. The President can and should "go big" and make dramatic proposals to Congress for job-creation. Doing so will draw contrasts so the public has a clear choice in the coming elections. Fortunately there are things the President can do right now, without the approval of Congress, that will have a big impact on job-creation now and in the future."
That was yesterday, before today's terrible jobs report. The public wants jobs. The public wants a President who pushes for results.
On Tuesday I wrote,
"Mr.President, if you can't get results any other way people want you to move the obstructers out of the way. Republicans in the Congress are blocking every effort to boost the economy and create new jobs – especially good-paying jobs. Many think they are doing this to sabotage Democratic chances in the coming elections."
Mr. President, face it, this jobs report is what they wanted. The Republicans are not going to play nice. It's time to fight for US.
September 1, 2011
Here is a fact about bipartisanship and civility in Washington: the Republicans in Congress will obstruct anything President Obama proposes to create jobs and help the economy, period. A bad economy helps them in the coming elections, and that is that. Deal with it. If you want to see results on jobs and economic growth you are going to have to get around a Republican House of Representatives intent on blocking jobs and growth. The President can and should "go big" and make dramatic proposals to Congress for job-creation. Doing so will draw contrasts so the public has a clear choice in the coming elections. Fortunately there are things the President can do right now, without the approval of Congress, that will have a big impact on job-creation now and in the future.
China doesn't buy from us nearly as much as it sells to us and this has cost us dearly. China manipulates its currency to give Chinese-manufactured goods a competitive advantage in world markets. In effect this subsidizes their products so they have a cost advantage of as much as 30-40% coming out the gate, even before other competitive factors come into play. This has created huge imbalances not just with us but across the world.
The biggest thing the President could do right now is declare China to be a currency manipulator. Doing so enables the administration to impose sanctions, including tariffs, that would remove any cost advantage China gains from their manipulation. This would have an effect on reversing the loss of American jobs, factories and industries to Chinese imports, and would be supported by the public.
The President should officially declare China to be the currency manipulator that it is, and impose tariffs as a remedy. That takes care of China's advantage in US markets, and encourages other countries to take action, too.
With a level playing field our manufacturers can compete in world markets. Our government can take steps to help bring about such a level playing field, or to help our own companies against countries that do not play fair. This would tell companies that it is safe to manufacture here again, and our government will back them up.
But, But ,But...
There is concern about angering China when "we owe them so much money." It is important to remember why we "owe them" money. We owe them money because we thought we had a trade deal with them. By definition a trade deal involves actual trade, which involves buying and selling. We bought from them and they were supposed to use the dollars we spent there to buy things from us. But they didn't. The huge amount we "owe them" by definition means they didn't live up to their part of the bargain. We should insist that they use those treasury notes they have accumulated to purchase US-made goods.
Other Actions That Don't Require Congress
Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing wrote in The Hill last month that there are things the President can do without needing Congress' approval:
There is plenty that President Obama could do on his own right now:
• Expedite small business loans through the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department to help firms expand, retool and hire.
• Convene a multilateral meeting to address global imbalances and in particular Chinese mercantilism. If China doesn't agree to participate, designate it a currency manipulator. (China ships fully one-third of its exports to the U.S. and finances less than 10 percent of our public debt, so we have more leverage than some might suggest.)
• On the heels of the landmark agreement with automakers on fuel economy standards, secure an additional agreement from all foreign and domestic car companies to increase their levels of domestic content by at least 10 percent over the next three years.
• Direct the Department of Defense to leverage existing procurement to contractors that commit to increasing their domestic content of our military equipment, technology and supplies.
• Approve additional applications for renewable and traditional energy projects, contingent on the use of American materials in construction.
• Kick any CEO off of federal advisory boards or jobs councils who has: (1) not created net new American jobs over the past five years, or (2) is expanding the company's foreign workforce at a faster rate than its domestic workforce. Replace them with CEOs who are committed to investing in America. Shame is a good motivator.
National Industrial Policy
Even long-term things like promising the development of a national industrial policy could have an immediate effect on jobs here and now. If companies know that the US government is going to stand behind them if they manufacture here, and enforce trade agreements, and aggressively push for balanced trade where our trading partners don't just sell to us but also buy from us, they’ll put the US back into their manufacturing plans. If they know that the government understands and intends to assist key industries with tax policies, education and training policies, energy policies, infrastructure modernization,key research and development initiatives, and the other components of national strategy -- which is what other governments do -- they will know they are no longer going out to international markets alone, up against national systems.
By making it clear that our government is going to stand up for American manufacturers -- and their employees -- and won't pull the rug out from under them again, companies will have a reason to change their strategies and start bringing these jobs back home.
August 30, 2011
Before leaving on vacation President Obama said he is going to talk about creating jobs in September. The latest word is he will give this speech next week. Campaign for America’s Future has put together some ideas for creating jobs. See our series Big Ideas To Get America Working:
The task is not simply to give the economy a stimulus, as if we were giving a charge to a dead car battery. We need to rebuild the engine and modernize the wiring, creating a new strategy for America in the global economy. We asked our writers and contributors to lay out the "big ideas" and framing you can use to push a jobs-first agenda to the forefront of the national debate.
Here is where we are: People need jobs and jobs fix deficits. We have to get people back to work and the American people deserve good-paying jobs, not just any new job at half the old wages. Lots and lots of regular people are not working or have settled for jobs that don’t offer enough hours or just don’t pay enough or provide benefits. And here's a fact: people who are working are paying taxes, are not collecting unemployment and are less likely to be collecting food stamps, so putting people to work lowers deficits.
Of course people want their President to be reasonable and bipartisan and compromise to get things done, but more than that they want results. Mr.President, if you can't get results any other way people want you to move the obstructers out of the way. Republicans in the Congress are blocking every effort to boost the economy and create new jobs – especially good-paying jobs. Many think they are doing this to sabotage Democratic chances in the coming elections.
So, Mr. President, you have to take this to the public. Go big. Draw contrasts. Give the public a clear choice. You don’t have to propose something that Republicans will pass -- because no matter what you propose, they won’t. Instead you have to bring forward proposals that will clearly put lots of Americans to work, so the public can decide what they want to do.
Above all, it is time to be reality-based in the approach. The country is sick of spin and propaganda and putting the best face on things. Reality and good policy are the best politics. Here are some “reality-based” ideas to help get this going.
- Reality: Millions of Americans are out of work or are working in low-paying jobs and outside of the DC area it is not getting better.
- Reality: Getting people back to work lowers deficits because they are paying taxes and require fewer government services.
- Reality: Tariffs on goods made by exploited workers in exploited environments = jobs and good wages here. Our trade agreements have created huge trade deficits that are draining our economy. “Free trade” is a myth that has been used to drive wages down here, not to create trade partners who buy as much from us as they sell to us.
- Reality: Other countries have national industrial/economic strategies. This means we increasingly send our companies out alone to compete with national systems and they won't win that fight no matter how big they are.
- Reality: Other countries use national domestic-content procurement policies, and we need a "Buy American" procurement policy.
- Reality: For decades all income gains have gone to the top. This is distorting everything in our society and democracy.
- Reality: Tax cuts for the rich cause deficits. They also incentivize predatory business models by rewarding get-rich-quick schemes over good, long-term, sustainable business strategies.
- Reality: Climate change is real and it is serious and we have to address it. And addressing climate change means millions of green jobs will be created.
Twenty-five million Americans are in need of full time work. One in four teenagers not in college can’t find a job. Wages aren’t keeping up with prices. Our trade deficit is rising, as more and more good jobs get shipped abroad. It’s projected that a staggering 48 percent of homes with mortgages could be underwater – worth less than the mortgage – by the end of the year.
Moreover, there is no recovery to an old, healthy economy. The old economy didn’t work for most Americans even when it was growing. The cancer was spreading before it metastasized in the financial panic. In the so-called Bush recovery years before the collapse, the few captured all the rewards of growth. The average income of the bottom 90% dropped. That economy was built on debt and bubbles. We were hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs and borrowing $2 billion a day from abroad. And we were in complete denial about global warming and the catastrophic climate changes that have already begun. We can’t recover to that old economy – and we wouldn’t want to.
Summary: The old way didn’t work and led to disaster. Don’t try to bring that back, thinking it will be better this time. We need a new vision, and new strategies.
So let's get down to business. Here are the ideas presented in our Big Ideas To Get America Working series:
Today's Big Idea To Get America Working: Fix The Housing Crisis by Liz Ryan Murray.
Today's Big Idea to Get America Working: Hire the Young to Build Their Own Future by Richard (RJ) Eskow.
Today's Big Idea To Get America Working: Make Work Pay by Anne Thompson.
Big Ideas To Get America Working: Rebuild Our Infrastructure by Dave Johnson.
August 28, 2011
Problem: Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about "Obama spending" and "Obama deficits" and how the "Stimulus" just made things worse. Solution: Here are three "reality-based" charts to send to him. These charts show what actually happened.
Government spending increased dramatically under Bush. It has not increased much under Obama. Note that this chart does not reflect any spending cuts resulting from deficit-cutting deals.
Notes, this chart includes Clinton's last budget year for comparison.
The numbers in these two charts come from Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2012. They are just the amounts that the government spent and borrowed, period, Anyone can go look then up. People who claim that Obama "tripled the deficit" are either misled or are trying to mislead.
The Stimulus and Jobs
In this chart, the RED lines on the left side -- the ones that keep doing DOWN -- show what happened to jobs under the policies of Bush and the Republicans. We were losing lots and lots of jobs every month, and it was getting worse and worse. The BLUE lines -- the ones that just go UP -- show what happened to jobs when the stimulus was in effect. We stopped losing jobs and started gaining jobs, and it was getting better and better. The leveling off on the right side of the chart shows what happened as the stimulus started to wind down: job creation leveled off at too low a level.
It looks a lot like the stimulus reversed what was going on before the stimulus.
Conclusion: THE STIMULUS WORKED BUT WAS NOT ENOUGH!
More False Things
These are just three of the false things that everyone "knows." Some others are (click through): Obama bailed out the banks, businesses will hire if they get tax cuts, health care reform cost $1 trillion, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme or is "going broke", government spending "takes money out of the economy."
Why This Matters
These things really matter. We all want to fix the terrible problems the country has. But it is so important to know just what the problems are before you decide how to fix them. Otherwise the things you do to try to solve those problems might just make them worse. If you get tricked into thinking that Obama has made things worse and that we should go back to what we were doing before Obama -- tax cuts for the rich, giving giant corporations and Wall Street everything they want -- when those are the things that caused the problems in the first place, then we will be in real trouble.
August 19, 2011
Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry, threatening Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, over his efforts to boost the economy:
“If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”
Perry believes that efforts to help the economy are "politics" because helping the economy helps President Obama in the coming election. Perry’s comments brought into the open the Republican mindset about the economy: They want it to tank – and are working to tank it – because they believe a poor economy will help them in the coming election. They see helping the economy as "politics" that help Obama.
Hostage-Taking And Intimidation
Republicans recently threatened to take the country into default, which brought about the "credit-rating downgrade" from Standard & Poors. The result of this hostage-taking was an economy-killing deal to take trillions of dollars out of the economy, immediately sending the stock market and economic indicators like consumer confidence into a dive. Republicans previously used hostage-taking to keep tax cuts for the wealthy, thereby dramatically increasing deficits and economy-killing income/wealth disparity. Then they used hostage-taking threats to "shut down the government" to force economy-killing cuts in services to regular people.
Time after time Republicans are obstructing, delaying, bullying, doing whatever they can to keep the economy from recovering. Hostage-taking, intimidation, bullying tactics, and they are not even above use of physical threats to get their way.
JFK Assassinated In Texas
This flyer was circulating around Dallas in the days before Kennedy's assassination:
Governor Perry threatened Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s safety, using language echoing 60s-era accusations against President John F. Kennedy. A person who could be the next President accusing a public official of the death-penalty crime of "treason" is about as serious as it gets. On top of that, it is not easy to forget what this kind of talk means in Texas. President Kennedy was accused of "treason," too, and Texas treated him “ugly” in November, 1963. There is no possibility that a Governor of the state of Texas is not very aware that this event occurred there, and of the political climate in Texas at the time it occurred, and of what saying to a high federal official that "we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas" necessarily brings to mind.
Cut Him Slack?
In response to Perry's threat against Bernanke, President Obama said he will "cut him some slack."
"Mr. Perry just got into the presidential race. I think that everybody who runs for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn't like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress, and you've got to be a little more careful about what you say," Obama responded.
"But I'll cut him some slack. He's only been at it for a few days now," he said.
Cut him slack for threatening the Chairman of the Federal Reserve? Cut him slack for saying that efforts to get our economy going are "treason?"
Mr. President, you were elected by We, the People to empower and protect us. You have a duty to take on those who threaten us, and threaten our livelihoods and prosperity and wish to harm our government. You owe it to us to be tough in the face of intimidation and hostage-taking.
Mr. President, do not "cut them some slack" when they threaten us and take hostages! Confront them head on, shame them, call them out for these actions. If you "cut them some slack" the bullies will continue to do these things again and again, as they have been doing for some time. You owe it to us, to We, the People, to put a stop to this and we gave you the power to do that.
August 9, 2011
Just ten years ago this country was running huge surpluses and paying off its debt. But then we elected Obama and all hell broke loose. Oh, wait...
Between the time ten years ago when we had big surpluses and were paying off the debt and now when we are told the "Obama spending and deficit" mean we have to cut back on the things We, the People do for each other, something happened. Something changed. The things that happened, the things that changed, are being ignored in the current DC discussion about what we need to do to fix things.
Separation From Reality
This DC/Tea Party argument over deficits and the Reagan/Bush debt is completely separated from facts and history. And it is completely separated from what the public wants. There are things that we are supposed to just not remember and which seem to be taboo in the national media. There are things that are "off the table" for discussion, and certainly for solving our problems.
But here is some reality anyway, even if we're not supposed to see it. Just ten years ago we were paying off debt at a rate that would have completely paid it all off by now. But under George W. Bush we cut taxes for the rich and more than doubled military spending. We deregulated and stopped enforcing laws. We let the big corporations run rampant. Our federal budget turned from huge surpluses to massive deficits, and Bush said it was "incredibly positive news" because it would lead to a debt crisis they could use to shock people into letting the corporate right privatize and thereby profit.
And then, under and because of Bush, our economy collapsed.
Deficits From Tax Cuts And Military Spending
Once again: the deficits are the direct result of tax cuts for the rich, and huge increases in military spending. Then that huge jump in already-large deficits up past the trillion-dollar level that occurred in Bush's last budget was the result of the Bush-caused financial collapse. The economy collapsed and the government stepped in with hundreds of billions, even trillions, to rescue the wealthy, with "bailouts," while doing little, even cutting back, on what our government does for We, the People. That all happened in Bush's last budget year, not Obama's first.
To Fix The Damage, Undo The Cause
The way to fix deficits is to undo the damage Bush did, by raising taxes on the rich, and cutting back the huge, bloated, extreme, massive, astonishing, incredible, stratospheric military budget. And we have to boost the economy by investing in rebuilding our infrastructure to get people employed. We have millions of jobs that need doing, while millions are looking for jobs. Then those people will be paying taxes instead of collecting unemployment and food stamps. And the infrastructure improvements will bosst our economy's competitiveness. This is all so simple and obvious that only DC insider types could miss it.
Taxes And Spending = Democracy
Cutting spending doesn't cut the need, it shifts the burden. Cutting government spending does not cut the costs to society and the overall economy of meeting those needs. Cutting government spending just shifts -- or privatizes -- those costs onto the backs of people who can't afford to spend that money. That need and cost is still there in the economy, except without government -- democracy -- handling it, doing it for all of us, less expensively. Cutting government's role opens those functions up to private profit, instead of We, the People taking care of and watching out for each other -- and making the decisions.
Do you really think that if you phase out Medicare, that old people won't still need the medical care? Of course they will still need it, but the government won't be negotiating cost-savings for them, they'll be on their own, up against the giant insurance monopolies.
In the 1950s the top tax rate was 90%, and the country's economy worked a lot better for a lot more of us. We didn't have big deficits. We certainly weren't piling up huge debt. With high tax rates at the top, predatory, sell-the-farm business models didn't make sense. We were investing in infrastructure, and that infrastructure made us competitive in world markets. We as a people were doing better every year, paying our bills, getting educated and becoming more civilized. This empowerment led to demands for equal rights for all of us.
Ignored By Media
The "both sides do it" major media is simply ignoring the majority of the public. But people aren't fooled. Poll after poll (did I already say that?) shows that the public "gets it." Poll after poll shows that the public wants our government to address jobs, not deficits, to restore top tax rates, to invest in America's infrastructure, to leave Social Security and Medicare alone (or increase them,) and to put more money into education. Poll after poll.
The Public Wants Jobs
The public gets it. Poll after poll shows that Americans want their government focused on jobs, not deficits. The latest, from CNN, taken August 5-7, shows 49% of Americans think unemployment is the biggest issue facing the country, while only 27% say deficits. Only 16% say the deficit is the country's biggest problem.
Rebuild The Dream
The The American Dream Movement is rolling out their Contract for the American Dream. The Tea-Party-fascinated press is largely ignoring this, but this movement represents the majority of the public, and can't be ignored for long. I'll be writing more about it later.
Also the Take Back the American Dream conference is coming up on Oct. 3. Click through and learn more.
July 30, 2011
When you sell the farm, the farm's gone.
Is it already too late for America? I’m starting to think that the anti-tax, anti-government conservative movement that started in the mid-70s, elected Reagan and led to the terrible Bush Presidency may have effectively destroyed the country, leaving it bankrupt, corrupt,ungovernable, ruled by a wealthy elite -- and we're only now just starting to realize it. To cover tax cuts we stopped maintaining the infrastructure and started borrowing. To satisfy their hatred of government we increasingly stripped away rule of law, regulation, and belief in one-person-one-vote. We are seeing the consequences of all of that coming back to roost now.
Reagan left us with massive debt and ever-increasing interest payments. Bush left us with $1.3 trillion deficits and a destroyed economy that would force further increases in the borrowing for years - to be blamed on Obama. The "free marketers" gave away our manufacturing base that will take decades and massive capital investment to recover. Obama can try, but it may just be too late to do anything about the borrowing. We need massive investment in jobs and infrastructure, and a national economic/industrial plan. But, with their own Reagan/Bush debt as ammunition, conservative ideologues continue to block every effort at investment to get out of the mess we are in.
And with the country on the very edge of defaulting on the Reagan/Bush debt, Senate Republicans are FILIBUSTERING the very debt-ceiling deal they were for just a few weeks ago...
There is much more at that old post, go read.
May 31, 2011
Will Sarah Palin, Congressman Paul Ryan or Newt go under the bus? This is quite a polemic for our Republican brethren that have always made hay on their brilliant use of language while we Dems contemplated our sleepy intellectualism. Perhaps finally in the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the President's irrefutable victories, and the Arab spring -- maybe the forces have finally aligned for the Democrats together with social media to counter balance the megaphone of the Right wing propaganda.
Given that language and propaganda are not working, who will be the first to be thrown under the bus for the greater good of the Republican Party? Will it be Sarah our old pal from the McCain campaign that has built a $25M industry around her 2008 candidacy to the chagrin of the Party elders? Or will it be the "real" Palin appropriately coined as such by the supporters of Michelle Bachman on national television? Or have the women folk run their course in Republican Land? And if so has the time come to "man-up" with a few good, old white conservative male Governors from Conservativeville - like Tim Pawlenty or Jon Huntsman? Or better yet will it be Newt who inappropriately danced on the head of Congressman Paul Ryan and his budget plan -- only to refute it later? Sadly, for the Republicans all of this is off putting for guys like Mitt, or even Governor Chris Christie that appeal to the moderates of both parties.
Admittedly, any candidate, male or female, needs the proverbial brass cajoles, or other such accoutrements to challenge this sitting President after the take down of Osama bin Laden. This factoid together with Obama's recent tough stance on the Middle East clearly levels the playing field. The scare tactics of the past cannot work at this rodeo particularly when bundled with the wholesale lunacy of the Republican leadership on the debt ceiling, Medicare and the budget. Vice President Biden in an LA Times piece summarizes well when referring to the Osama take-down as a "defining moment" for the Obama presidency. Certainly, this together with the broken Republican message machine is having an impact. Terms like "Mediscare" are not getting the same kind of traction as "ObamaCare" did just last year, or the coinage of the term "entitlement" used to pollute a whole generations' thinking on Medicare and Social Security. Of course, Newt and his merry gang of language shapers keep trying to spin, but it is not sticking. Maybe in Newt's case, folks have had enough of those that behave badly, pander family values, but live on the edge of exorbitant wealth. For him it appears that there is just no way to explain away things like the Tiffany's account to the Middle Class. Further is there now cause to wonder if the day has come for Sarah, sweet Sarah, who walks the walk on reality television, but lives shall we say in Palin vernacular, high off the hog.
Indeed, the President and the Party are on the right side of the budget, Medicare, Social Security, national security, jobs and climate change. But can he and the Dems maintain this momentum when the banks, remember those pesky money men, continue to behave poorly. The reality is that folks are as fed up with these fat cats as they are with the empty threats of Right wing rhetoric and the bad behavior of men of a certain age and power whether they represent Hollywood, government or international politics.
Note to the Democratic Party: clean up the banks, the bankers and all of the bad behavior of their ilk and 2012 is a shoe-in, and maybe even 2016. Let's think like Republicans and chart the waters for the next eight years.
February 16, 2011
It’s a really bad time to even be middle class in this country, and forget about being poor. The only way to be protected is to be very wealthy: then you are guaranteed that your house is safe, your medical care is covered, and your children will have a future. It’s that bad, and not one bit of this is subtle.
There is a class war underway in this country. The rich, or those that represent their interests, and corporations want control. Dave Johnson, blogger for the Campaign for America’s Future, nailed it when he wrote that: “This budget fight is about a stark choice: jobs and growth for We, the People, or going down the road of plutocracy -- rule by the super-rich and big corporations -- with little or nothing left over for the rest of us.”
This is the power grab of our generation playing out in Obama’s budget. It reflects true entitlement for the super wealthy. The government revitalization of the “too big to fail” banks was only the tipping point. Of course, the bankers deserved their bonuses. Remember that you heard it here. The battleground is not about the so-called entitlement programs espoused by the Democrats. Social Security, and other such programs are not the culprits; they are the scapegoat for the real agenda.
Obama is being forced to rip open the social fabric of this country to reduce the Bush generated debts. In the President’s proposed budget, most social programs will be ravaged left and right (no pun intended). Yes admittedly, this budget is a massive jobs creation machine. But watch out – don’t get sick folks or have an on-the-job accident because there will little if any safety net. Certainly, we all know about health care reform, yet if Speaker Boehner and his boys have their way -- that too will be reduced to a hill of beans and severely compromised. The fight for survival of the middle class and the poor has been ratcheted up a notch. Strap in folks, this is class warfare.
Note, this will also appear in the Huffington Post.
January 12, 2011
Thank you, Mr. President.
December 13, 2010
We had bailouts and bonuses for Wall Street but letdowns and layoffs for Main Street. We had a deficit commission but no jobs commission. We have tax cuts for the rich and budget cuts for the rest of We, the People. And this week the President is having a "summit" with the heads of giant corporations. So how about holding a summit with the unemployed?
President Obama is holding a "summit" with 20 or so CEOs Wednesday, "to ease strained relations with business." NY Times: Obama to Meet With Executives,
President Obama will host a roundtable with about 20 corporate chiefs on Wednesday, according to the White House, part of an attempt to ease strained relations with business.
… With the mood for the meeting already lightened by his recent announcements of a trade deal with South Korea and a compromise on tax cuts with Congressional Republicans, Mr. Obama and the executives will discuss an overhaul of the tax system...
See if you can guess what sort of "overhaul of the tax system" suggestions are likely to come out of a "summit" with top CEOs. Hint: a recent "summit" with Republican leaders resulted in a plan for extending tax cuts for the rich and cutting the inheritance tax.
The Washington news types talk about "strained relations" between business leaders and President Obama. The business news reports I've been reading don't reflect a "strain" at all. A recent NY Times story: Corporate Profits Were the Highest on Record Last Quarter,
American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.
Record corporate profits. Wow. Just wow. And for the rest of us?
High Unemployment, Very High Long-Term Unemployment
But wait, something else is at high levels as well. This year's headlines:
September: Long-term unemployment reaches crisis level
Susie Madrak , over at Crooks and Liars, has a few things to say about this summit in her post, Obama To Hold CEO Summit Wednesday; Execs To Present Their Very Reasonable Demands For Ransom
Basically, they want to run untaxed, unregulated businesses with few (if any) legal obligations to the people who still work for them. Oh, and they want "austerity" for the working classes…
… Now perhaps the president can convene a one-day summit of the unemployed and the working poor to ask them what they think, for a change.
Yes, perhaps the President can convene a summit with the unemployed.
Playing The Ref
In November I wrote about this idea that President Obama is “anti-business,”
Here is what has been going on. In a classic "playing the ref" move, the Chamber of Commerce has been pitching the idea that the Obama administration is "anti-business" because they don't give the big, monopolist, multi-national corporations everything they want. "Playing the ref" is a sports term, the idea being that if you complain enough about the calls a referee makes the referee will feel the need to give your team a few breaks in order to appear to be making fair calls.
So the Chamber, by complaining that Obama is "anti-business," is really trying to get Obama to be even more pro-business. (The same strategy is at work when you hear complaints about the "liberal media." After so may years of this accusation by right-wingers, newsroom editors are terrified of appearing to be left-leaning, resulting in so many right-leaning news stories.)
This summit to "ease strained relations" with business leaders is in response to a classic "playing the ref" move. While sitting on the highest profits ever they complain that the President is :anti-business" and get what they want. It's too bad the unemployed -- with the highest rates of long-term unemployment ever -- are not represented in Washington by swarms of well-paid lobbyists, or by campaign contributions, or by "independent expenditure" smear-ad campaigns, or by astroturf (providing a corporate-purchased appearance of "grassroots" support) organizations. That seems to work. Being one of the regular old-fashioned "We, the People" doesn't seem to buy much influence on our government and its leaders any more.
So how about holding a summit with the unemployed, and taking their suggestions? This might "ease strained relations" between the unemployed and the country's leaders and their policies.
December 6, 2010
The deficit commission suggestions added up to $4 trillion. Cutting Social Security, making working people retire later, etc...
It looks like Obama is going to cave on Republican demands for a tax cut for the rich, which COSTS, not saves $4 trillion.
And then they'll need to cut $8 trillion instead.
November 13, 2010
Is Obama the "weakest" President? I think this hits the nail: Obama Without Tears by William Greider.
November 3, 2010
Today begins the days of John Boehner, aka the Orange Man. Listen, you can hear his horse approaching. Oh my, it's like a new Marlboro commercial. Guess he and Obama can grab a smoke together outside the Oval Office. Yikes! That's a real Hallmark moment.
Early this morning, Progressive blogger, Dave Johnson extolled the virtues of the Progressive bloggers that "were right," and he and they were correct. "It was about the jobs, jobs, and jobs." But let's be blunt -- there are no jobs; there is no money being loaned; employment is rampant; the banks are paying a whopping 1% interest on savings; and now there is NO hope and the inmates have taken the keys!
Yeah, we know that a loss was anticipated in an incumbent year, but not one that lost hope. Sadly, the American people either stayed home, or voted for the lunatics that were responsible for the situation. Obama and all those Democratic spin masters blew it big time. They allowed the Tea Party -- fueled by Frank Luntz's rhetoric-- to harness this rage and win the day. How the heck did that happen? Now, the every person in this country has just had a profound temper tantrum, and the collateral damage is huge.
Please note that a version of this article was published earlier today in the Huffington Post.
October 10, 2010
The 911 of the Middle Class is the consumer credit debacle. It is the gift that keeps on giving. The reality is that the housing crisis is just one piece of this really big, ugly mess. It seems to me that our President MUST call for immediate reform and take action through executive order. Call me politically naïve, but we need action. Unemployment continues to hover close to 10%, and higher in badly hit areas. Interest paid by the banks on savings ranges from less than 1% to maybe 2.5% on a good day. The consumer credit card companies, though regulated now sort of, ran naked through the streets jacking up everyone's interest rates to over 15 to 30%. Yes they have to notify the poor, irresponsible slobs now before they do things, but the banks still get to burn kerosene in the town square with no permits. And we haven't even gotten to the health insurance yahoos that have four more years for their trickery. Oh Nelly, bar the door! It's the Wild West again as the cattle are corralled - only this time it's the American people being herded to ruin by the giddy-up bankers and health insurance companies, not just the mortgage guys.
People are getting sick from worry. Their backs hurt, their necks are out, and they are grinding their pearly whites. Few sleep well at night. Pharmaceutical sales are up. The banks we saved are savaging us. They are bulldozing the Middle Class under mountains of debt. People are losing their homes, divorces are up, businesses are closing, and unemployment is rampant. The consumer credit world and their FICO scores are broken. They are based on a world that no longer exists. In two short years, many consumers have watched their scores collapse under an avalanche of debt. The FICO scores were calibrated for a different time when consumer credit cards were not the only source of money available, mortgages were not under water, and unemployment was not soaring. If we are ever to unwind this situation, these algorithms must be reset. Otherwise the banks will never lend again. The Middle Class needs a do-over, just like the banks got.
Yes sir, Obama stood up against the broad sweeping foreclosure legislation, and Bank of America seized the moment halting foreclosures nationwide. But we're all holding our breath waiting for the other shoe to fall as even Progressive strategist Mike Lux gens up the netroots to re-engage with the President and Congress. It is inconceivable that people have not taken to streets in protest over their lost pensions, and the absence of any kind of interest bearing bank account -- except on consumer credit cards. In fact, this week Robert Sheer wrote brilliantly about Obama's "No Banker Left Behind" -- while every normal person has been thrown under the bank bus. How did we allow the bail-out of every financial institution, while abandoning the common folk? Why are Democrats -- whether conservative, moderate or netroots - not able to channel this collective anger, rage and disappointment other than to take aim at one another? Given the data, there is no way out for the once resilient Middle Class without a do-over. Instead of "No Banker Left Behind" let us heal the Middle Class by fixing the credit industry; restricting the health care industry now, not in four years; and making those banks lend the money we gave them and not hide behind FICO scores. All of the Democrats are writing, but no one is demanding change now. The Tea Party has successfully harnessed the anger and rage, but has no plan. Frankly, they are just another distraction taking our attention away from the gravity of the problems.
Mr. President, come back to us as Mike Lux laments. We need you. We, in the Middle Class, are living this nightmare everyday of our lives. Figure it out, and get the Middle Class out from under. The numbers do not lie. This is our emergency, our call to action, our 911. Friends and neighbors are collapsing from the stress when they can ill afford it. Unemployment is not going away. Consumer debt is skyrocketing. Mr. Obama, Americans are not being frivolous and irresponsible as Dr. Summers would like you to believe. They are boxed in with no escape hatch. Consider enacting a nationwide job core like the WPA, putting the banks on real notice, corralling those nasty health insurance folks, redoing the credit industry, and loosening up cash. No one is sleeping at night. People are nervous and cannot see a future.
Please, inspire us again, show emotion, get messy, and let the wrinkles show. Mr. President raise your voice in outrage. Give us voice. Come back to us. The time is now.
This was originally published on the Huffington Post earlier today.
See the pearltree below for the references for this article.
September 11, 2010
I watched President Obama's press conference yesterday and I am happy to say that my enthusiasm is up and my enthusiasm gap is down.
* My level of confidence is up.
* My level of certainty is up.
* My faith in government is up. As is my faith in government to address our problems.
* My approval of the President's handling of his job is up.
* My approval of the President's handling of the economy is up.
* My approval of the President's handling of international relations is up.
* My interest in public affairs is up.
* My expectation that the economy will improve is up.
* My belief that things will be better for the next generation than they are for this generation is up.
I have to ask, where has this guy been? The election is less than two months away and in his absence from the fight people have started to panic! He finally, finally, finally, finally, finally is stepping up, speaking up for his policies, and looking like he is going to fight to get things done, and this is going to help build support for those policies and get them enacted.
More like this, please. A LOT more.
July 14, 2010
The American Dream is what is at stake for the Obama Administration, and they know it. This is the dirty, little secret that can longer be contained -- it is escalating, cannot remain hidden, and may have significant political ramifications for the 2010 elections. The atrocity of the past years is this broken promise with the people, and it is deeply affecting the way they think, behave, vote and live. Moreover, it could begin to explain the groundswell response to candidate Barack Obama in 2008. The power of his words helped them believe that the dream was recoverable. He exemplified what was possible through education and hard work in his meteoric rise through American politics to the Oval Office. Further and more importantly, it also explains why we are now suffering such profound political despair reflected in the dropping poll numbers.
The middle class, for its survival, needs life to return to a semblance of "normalcy" - a time when they didn't know how to spell the word "deficit" and didn't have to care. They want their retirement savings back so they don't have to work until they drop. They want a bank account that makes more then one percent interest. They want to know what their health insurance premiums will be this year and in ten. They want to know if their kids study, and if they save and sacrifice, that their lives will be better. They want their kids to get good jobs, and they want to hold onto our own jobs. And with despair and anger they realize that despite the heroic work of the Congress with this President in passing landmark legislation in all of these areas -- they still are not safe. Economic ruin may still be right around the corner, and makes it hard to sleep at night.
You know we've all been hoodwinked and sold a bill of goods about the sanctity of the middle class in this country. It is a basic tenet of our lives, and made us different from other countries. The ranks swelled over the last decades after FDR to the present. But now for the first time since the Great Depression, the middle class is at risk of tipping over once and for all. They are not coming out of the financial, housing and environmental crises intact. Interest rates have ratcheted up on the family home, maybe there's a balloon payment on the mortgage and its impossible to refinance under the "new" programs; savings have virtually no interest and are drying up; pensions have evaporated; health insurance premiums are basically unaffordable until 2014 if then; schools are overcrowded and on the decline; there are no jobs except in China and they don't speak Mandarin; and unemployment is still at 9.5% -- higher in key areas throughout the country. The new legislation is riddled with loopholes, as all legislation can be after laborious compromises and extensive details. What is different is that each of these loopholes is flagrantly being exploited by the banks, the credit card companies and the health insurance companies. For example, many of the unemployed cannot qualify for COBRA because their companies failed which is code for closed their doors. COBRA is not available when a company terminates their health insurance plan, and 2014 is a long way off when you need health insurance coverage now.
Frankly, this is not what the middle class signed up for. It was not part of the implicit promise made to them. As a result, they are angry (enter stage right the Tea Party to exploit this vulnerability), and depressed (evidenced in the lackluster June election voter turnout). This is a deadly combination that could seal the deal on the November elections for the big, bad guys. Yet somehow the middle class and its Democrats must rally again and rise above the collective depression (no pun intended). We cannot let the brilliant and effective message machine of the Republican Party lull them into universal amnesia -- forgetting all the wrongs of the past. Remember these are the same guys (Bush and Cheney) that put the nails in the coffin cementing the potential extermination of the middle class. These same guys two weeks ago even blocked the extension of unemployment benefits while they frolicked on vacation. How could they do that to working families in this country? The extension passed the House before the break, but was filibustered in the Senate. And given all that, imagine life when we essentially give away the House because we are too depressed to vote or disorganized to keep these seats.
I will take liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi any day over anti-choice, sanctimonious Republican Representative John Boehner as Speaker of the House. That would be a bad dream that just keeps on giving. This threat should be enough for the White House to saddle up and come out with a plan, a message (remember "hope and change"), and leadership to deliver - not the White House Press Secretary Gibbs message yesterday. David Gregory of Meet the Press has gotten so very good and Gibbs just walked into a fiasco announcing the potential lose of seats in the House. It was as bad as giving away candy instead of feeding the homeless, and maybe that's why White House Special Advisor, David Axelrod, was so snarky with CNN's Candy Crowley during the next hour on the Sunday morning political shows because it sure didn't make any sense.
Snarky or not, we all know Obama and his team are awful busy with the economy, the oil spill and a few dozen Russian spies, but we need them to reach out to that disenfranchised middle class again, aka big voting block. After all, Obama is the master communicator and we know that he can do it because he has done it before to win in 2008. And now the stakes may even be higher. If we allow 40 seats in the House to go asunder and a few more in the US Senate -- we can start waving bye-bye to the American Dream, the middle class, economic recovery, and maybe the Supreme Court for the next couple of decades.
Please see my Pearltree for some of the reference materials with more to come. This is a new tool to organize and share materials on the web. In full disclosure, I advise them as they build out the new features of this platform.
Note, an earlier version of this article appeared this week on the Huffington Post.
June 16, 2010
Damage control. Not much else. Obama has moved from Hope and Change to wondering why those nice Republicans won't vote for things even after he gives away everything in the bills that was good for the country.
Another reaction: Obama's Oil Spill Speech: Running On Empty
May 5, 2010
WHY does Obama refuse to explain to the public that the previous conservative administration destroyed so many departments of the government, and the resulting lack of oversight, controls and regulations is why things like the oil rig explosion, mining disaster, etc. keep happening?
May 1, 2010
Please read Obama the Centrist
In all of these cases, Obama is ruling, or trying to rule, by taking positions that are at the technocratic good-government center, and then taking two steps to the right – sacrificing some important policy goals – in the hope of attracting Republican votes and thereby demonstrating his commitment to bipartisanship.
March 27, 2010
After being in office for 14 months President Obama is finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally choosing to begin to govern the country. Today, for example, he finally, finally, finally, FINALLY decided it would be a good idea to put a few people into vacant offices. See President Announces Fifteen Recess Appointments, Including Craig Becker,
The President today announced recess appointments for fifteen nominees who have been waiting for confirmation in the Senate for an average of 214 days. Included in those nominees are two members of the National Labor Relations Board, which has been non-functional without a quorum for over two years.
Of course, this is only putting 15 appointments into vacant positions when there are literally hundreds of vacancies. But heck, it's something, after months and months and months and months of nothing.
Here is what is going on. President Obama is way behind in nominating people to vacant posts and judgeships. On top of this the Republicans have used the filibuster to block many of the candidates that Obama has nominated. In the case of the Labor Board there were only two people left serving on the 5-member Board when 3 are required to make rulings, and some 600 cases have backed up.
The President has the power to make what are called "recess appointments" which means he can just put people into many of these vacant slots when the Senate is not in session. Such use of legitimate power to make the government operate as it should is also known as "governing." Until today he has refused to use this power to get the government operating. Today he finally, finally, finally, finally put 15 people into positions where they can start getting their agencies operating.
A couple of weeks ago, after a year of delay that enabled Republicans to almost start a civil war, the President finally showed up and started working to get health care passed, and today it is law. Of course, the President didn't fight for a public option -- he was afraid that Republicans would call him a Socialist if he did --so instead he fought for a Republican-originated plan to make us all buy insurance from the monopolistic insurance giants that have been ripping us off. But at least that kept him from being called a Socialist.
So maybe the President will learn that actually showing up and fighting for something is a good way to get things done. Maybe. We'll see.
March 21, 2010
So finally, after a year of disengagement, President Obama steps up to the plate and works to get something passed, and we get a health care bill. I wonder if we'll see him get involved on labor rights, financial reform, infrastructure investment and so many other things the country needs..
March 6, 2010
Headline at Drudge Report: Obama policies projected to add $9.7 trillion to debt by 2020... points to this story, National debt to be higher than White House forecast, CBO says,
President Obama's proposed budget would add more than $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, congressional budget analysts said Friday. Proposed tax cuts for the middle class account for nearly a third of that shortfall.
So here is the deal. This Drudge headline, saying Obama's spending "adds to the deficit" is a trick. Here is how it works. Suppose you take over a company that is losing $100 million a year, and your jobs is to turn it around. So perhaps the second year the company only loses $70 million, $30 million the third year, and breaks even in year four. You saved the company. But in those years the company "lost" another $100 million. Should you be fired?
President Obama took office as President of a country with a $1.4 trillion deficit - thanks to the failure of conservative policies. Their tax cuts, wars, military buildups, corruption and incompetence drove the borrowing WAY up, and then their deregulation, corruption and incompetence destroyed the economy, driving the borrowing up into the stratosphere.
If the borrowing just stayed the same at the $1.4 trillion level Obama inherited each year -- never mind that interest on all that borrowing gets higher and higher each year -- that would mean $14 trillion would be added to the deficit by 2020. That's a LOT more than the $9.7 trillion that Drudge and the conservatives are making so much noise about. Obama is dramatically reducing the borrowing, but they use trickery to make it look like he is causing it.
What about that $1.4 trillion deficit? That was the deficit for the 2009 budget year. Conservatives say -- over and over -- that Obama "tripled the deficit" in 2009. This isn't even a trick, it is just a lie. The final Bush budget year ended with a deficit of $1.4 trillion. Conservatives have been telling the public this was an "Obama Deficit" and use graphics and charts that label this last Bush budget as Obama's. Look at that chart, and then look at this. The first chart is nothing more than a lie, of course repeated endlessly.
But what else should you expect? Like the scorpion that stings the frog as the frog ferries it across the river, it's what they do. They screw things up, and then point the finger of blame at everyone else.
February 22, 2010
Assignment: from last July: http://bit.ly/du6Trc Is Bipartisan Stance Destroying Obama's Presidency?
That was 7 months ago. Wow. Does anyone ever learn?
Now, please read Chris Bowers' important post today: Republicans gained by obstructing, Democrats lost by reaching out
The bloggers are always right. My post on this is coming soon.
February 15, 2010
Yes I'm writing about this again,
Way back in July President Obama had the option of keeping the Congress in session until they passed health care.Here is the thing: THIS weekend President Obama had the chance to exercise his legitimate, Constitutional power to get things done for the public, and fill several vacancies in his administration. He could have made recess appointments of nominees that Republicans are blocking. Previous Presidents have done this. Bush did it more than 100 times! But he didn't.White House officials negotiated furiously on Thursday to keep major health care legislation on track after the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said his chamber would not vote on a health measure until after Congress returned from its summer recess.The summer recess was when the corporate-and-Wall-Street-funded astroturf groups put so much effort into building up the tea party movement and reviving the Republican Party.
Just sayin'... He had the option to be tough and insist. So why didn't he? From the news story:As Mr. Obama took questions from his audience in Shaker Heights, he was asked whether he intended to call on Democratic leaders in Congress to cancel their August recess to try to reach a compromise on health care. For now, he said, he had no plans to do so.
I just don't understand this President's unwillingness to work for the People of the United states.
February 13, 2010
President Obama has the power to do a recess appointment and get the NLRB functioning again. One of his nominees was approved by a majority of the Senate, with confirmation blocked by filibuster.
This weekend is the test of whether the President wants to get things done for Americans or not. He could appoint the nominee to the NLRB and get it functioning again. Will he or won't he? Will he choose to govern or will he let the government continue to stagnate?
February 12, 2010
President Obama is refusing to do "recess appointments" to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), even after a majority of the Senate voted to confirm one of his nominees.
Some background: The NLRB is supposed to have 5 members of its Board. It currently only has 2 and requires 3 to do anything, so it is unable to function. Republicans have filibustered the two candidates that President Obama nominated 7 months ago. The President has the power to make recess appointments when the senate is not in session. President Bush's anti-labor nominees were confirmed unanimously, and Bush made a total of 171 recess appointments.
President Obama has said he will not do recess appointments. He feels being "bipartisan" is more important than getting things done. This at a time when the Repubicans have said in the open that their strategy tis to keep the President from getting anything done.
If you want to call with your opinion of this, the White House Switchboard is: 202-456-1111 OR 202-456-1414
Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, writes, No Deal,
Senate Republican obstructionists are working overtime to block the interests of working people. Today we hear the White House and Senate have cut a deal with Republicans that will keep President Obama's nominees off the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for even longer.
The NLRB's job is to protect workers' rights--but for more than two years it has been functioning with only two members instead of the five it should have. Working people need an NLRB that can enforce the National Labor Relations Act--not one hobbled by vacancies.
President Obama's nominees--Craig Becker and Mark Pearce--are highly qualified, well-respected labor lawyers who were nominated seven months ago, in July.
But Senate Republicans have ignored the working people they represent and blocked the appointments.
Yesterday, in a deal with the Republican minority, the Senate confirmed 27 non-controversial Obama appointees. The White House apparently has agreed not to make Presidents Day recess appointments--a process that allows the president to temporarily appoint his own nominee while Congress is out of session. That means NLRB nominees--and working people--are out in the cold.
A big win for the Republicans. A big win for corporations that want to file down the teeth of the NLRB. A big loss for working people.
We're used to the Republicans playing the role of Lucy and yanking the football away each time Charlie Brown tries to kick it. We've seen it on health care, jobs legislation, you name it.
President Obama has to end this farce.
Becker already received majority approval from the Senate, but apparently majority rule isn't good enough any more. A Republican filibuster--joined by Democrats Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.)--blocked his nomination from going forward. By contrast, when President Bush made his initial appointments to the NLRB, a package of nominees including three management lawyers was approved unanimously.
So today and every day through the congressional recess, union members and other activists from working America will be calling the White House and demanding a recess appointment now for Craig Becker and Mark Pearce.
These next few weeks will be crucial in building support for a fully functional NLRB. Progressives should take every opportunity to let their congressional representatives and the White House know that protection of workers' rights is one of the first and most important changes working people expected to see when they voted in 2008. It's been 13 months since the inauguration--it's time.
Give recess appointments to Craig Becker and Mark Pearce during the Presidents Day recess so the NLRB can do its job.
February 3, 2010
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.
Conservatives are constantly talking about Obama's "radical, far-left agenda."
"At last!", I said. Hearing their whines and complaints I became hopeful that our government would finally serve We, the People instead of the big corporations and the wealthy.
But then, looking around for the change that conservatives were denouncing, I couldn't find any signs of it at all! What in the world have they been talking about?!
Finally I came across a whisper of change: The Quiet Revolution | The New Republic,
Yet there is one extremely consequential area where Obama has done just about everything a liberal could ask for--but done it so quietly that almost no one, including most liberals, has noticed. Obama’s three Republican predecessors were all committed to weakening or even destroying the country’s regulatory apparatus: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the other agencies that are supposed to protect workers and consumers by regulating business practices. Now Obama is seeking to rebuild these battered institutions. ... Taken as a whole, Obama’s revival of these agencies is arguably the most significant accomplishment of his first year in office.
OK, I get it. Obama's "radical agenda" is to undo the failed conservative radical agenda that destroyed the government and the economy, restoring the government to minimal operation.
Well, that's something, anyway. Sigh.
But my own gauge of a return to actual governance by rule of law is when I open my morning paper here in Silicon Valley and see that the government is going after a few companies for age discrimination. Never mind prosecuting people for torture, illegally invading a country, crony capitalism, or destroying the country. No, I'll believe that radical change is beginning when they are willing to take on something so blatant , obvious and wrong as the firing of people when they reach 40 or so that is going on here in front of everyone's eyes out here.
February 1, 2010
In last week’s State of the Union speech President Obama talked about jobs. It was a great speech. It was SO satisfying to see him scold the Supreme Court for enabling monopoly corporatocracy to replace democracy, scold the Republicans for obstructing every single bill, and scold Democrats for being chickens**ts and running for the hills. But in the end he presented a laundry list – a good list, but a list – instead of a vision for a new economic structure.
First, he summarized the effects of the “stimulus,”
“Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders.”
Then the jobs list:
- “I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.”
- “I'm also proposing a new small business tax credit-– one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.”
- “let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.”
- “put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow . ... There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.”
- “put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities…”
- “and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs.”
- “it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.”
On Exports - Also A List
- “we need to export more of our goods”
- “a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America.”
- “launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports”
- “seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are”
- “enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules”
The most important jobs item missing from the President's speech was aid to states. The problem is that the states are cutting their budgets, which means layoffs and cutbacks from maintaining their infrastructure and investing in new infrastructure. With this happening in many of the 50 states, the scale threatens to undo the positive effect of the stimulus.
But President Obama faces two problems when considering aid to the states. First, helping the states would mean even more borrowing, on top of the borrowing forced on us by the years of conservative policies. Second, many of the troubled states are in their predicament because of their own conservative anti-tax policies. California, for example, is cutting jobs because the conservative minority is able to block any revenue-raising measures, and last year was even able to force even more corporate tax cuts in exchange for letting the state pass any budget at all.
But maybe Oregon is showing other states the way out of this trap. Last week voters raised taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Oregon voters pass tax increasing measures by big margin,
Oregon voters bucked decades of anti-tax and anti-[government] sentiment Tuesday, raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to prevent further erosion of public schools and other state services.
If the people in the states rise up and start demanding that the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, they can dig themselves out of this mess.
Another path out of the jobs mess is to include Buy American procurement clauses in stimulus, infrastructure and jobs bills. A report by Alliance for American Manufacturing, titled, Buy America Works: Longstanding United States Policy Enhances the Job Creating Effect of Government Spending argues for a strong “Buy American” clause in the new jobs bill.
“Including domestic sourcing requirements in job creating legislation would be the most effective way to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to create and maintain jobs and manufacturing capacity to the maximum extent possible, thereby vastly improving the stimulative effect of government spending.
[. . .] Given the dire problems the economy has experienced and continues to experience, the inclusion of domestic sourcing requirements in an upcoming job creation bill is the smart thing to do.”
Reinforcing this, a recent Gallup poll finds that Americans think the “best way to address the problem of growing unemployment in the United States [is] … to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S.”
Keep Jobs Here
Bloggers have pointed out that the job-creation tax credit doesn’t prohibit offshore outsourcing of the jobs that receive the tax credit! Come on people, this is pretty basic.
Finally, Tell The Senate: JOBS NOW!
Campaign for America's Future is reaching out the 27 million Americans who have lost their jobs and are scrambling to get by – and the rest of us who know them and stand with them – to contact their Senators and say: Tell the Senate: We need action on jobs NOW! Click here to take action.
January 30, 2010
Republicans like to claim that Obama "tripled the deficit" and point to the huge 2009 budget deficit. They use charts that show the 2009 deficit was, indeed, huge and about triple the prior year's borrowing. But the 2009 budget was the last year of BUSH budgets.
When you look at charts or hear descriptions from Republicans, they always say that this was Obama's deficit. This is just propaganda- lies intended to deceive. For example, when Obama spoke at the Republican caucus retreat yesterday, GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that Obama had "tripled the deficit." A CNN fact check addresses this,
Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account.So again, Republican claims that Obama has somehow increased the deficit are just lies intended to trick people. This massive increase that was reported after the fiscal year ended Sept. 20 occurred under Bush.
Don't believe me? See the conservative Cato Institute on this: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit | Cato @ Liberty,
Listening to a talk radio program yesterday, the host asserted that Obama tripled the budget deficit in his first year. This assertion is understandable, since the deficit jumped from about $450 billion in 2008 to $1.4 trillion in 2009. As this chart illustrates, with the Bush years in green, it appears as if Obama’s policies have led to an explosion of debt.Please click through to see the charts. And then look at Cato: Who's To Blame for the Massive Deficit? for an even better explanation,
. . . But there is one rather important detail that makes a big difference. The chart is based on the assumption that the current administration should be blamed for the 2009 fiscal year. While this makes sense to a casual observer, it is largely untrue. The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House.
What about the so-called stimulus, they will ask, with its $787 billion price tag? Or the omnibus fiscal-year 2009 appropriations bill? And how about Cash for Clunkers and Obama's expansion of the children's health insurance program? Didn't these all boost spending in 2009?
The answer is yes. But these boondoggles amounted to just a tiny percentage of FY2009 spending — about $140 billion out of a $3.5 trillion budget — as the pie chart nearby illustrates.
Here are some examples of how this propaganda is applied. keep in mind as you read these and look at the charts that the 2009 budget was Bush's last budget, and began before Obama even took office.
Heritage Foundation: Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit in Pictures. Look at how the chart tricks you into think that 2009 is an Obama budget year.
Here is Heritage directly labeling the 2009 budget as Obama's in a chart.
Fox News: Obama Triples Budget Deficit to $1.4 Trillion (they have since changed the headline but here is it as it appeared:)
Here's a good one, using a Heritage propaganda chart: Obama’s Tripling of the National Debt in Pictures
January 27, 2010
I think this was a great speech. He spoke to Americans as adults. He didn't use any gimmicks. (For example, the Republican response will be in front of an audience selected in advance with no Democrats allowed.)
He scolded Democrats for being chickenshits, and the Republicans for blocking everything.
Amber Lee Ettinger -- the buxom sensa tion who lip-synched about her love for then-candidate Barack Obama -- said she wishes he spent his first year in office more fo cused on fixing the abysmal economy.
. . . Her grade for Obama: B- minus.
She said she is still excited to see tonight's State of the Union speech.
January 21, 2010
Reuters reported two hours ago that multiple financial industry sources claimed that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was unhappy with the President's plan he announced today to rein in the banks. The sources said that Geithner thinks Obama is sacrificing good policy for politics.
This is a BIG deal, and if true should mean immediate firing of Geithner.
January 18, 2010
Way back in July President Obama had the option of keeping the Congress in session until they passed health care.
White House officials negotiated furiously on Thursday to keep major health care legislation on track after the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said his chamber would not vote on a health measure until after Congress returned from its summer recess.
The summer recess was when the corporate-and-Wall-Street-funded astroturf groups put so much effort into building up the tea party movement and reviving the Republican Party.
Just sayin'... He had the option to be tough and insist. So why didn't he? From the news story:
As Mr. Obama took questions from his audience in Shaker Heights, he was asked whether he intended to call on Democratic leaders in Congress to cancel their August recess to try to reach a compromise on health care. For now, he said, he had no plans to do so.Looking back now, it's just one blunder after another.
“I don’t want a delay just because of politics,” he said. “I have to tell you that sometimes delays in Washington occur when people just don’t want to do anything that they think might be controversial.”
Mr. Reid tried to blame Republicans for the delay, saying they had asked for more time. But he also acknowledged the cooperation of three Republican negotiators, Senators Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine.
“Working with the Republicans, one of the things that they asked for was to have more time,” Mr. Reid said. He added: “I don’t think it’s unreasonable. This is a complex, difficult issue.”
December 31, 2009
I think Jerome a Paris does a good job answering the question in his diary, Daily Kos: Obama is better than the extreme-right,
I've already described Obama as a "sane conservative" - he is running policies that would have been mainstream right-wing 30 years ago, and which would be mainstream rightwing in most of Europe, he's restoring competence in government (something I consider a major thing in itself, even if it makes few headlines) and he's mostly governing on the line he promised. It's welcome progress from recent years, and it beats the available alternatives on offer at the voting booth. He's doing the best with the system he inherited. But is he a progressive? In my view, not really. I'm of the opinion that the current system is hopelessly flawed and cannot continue as it is in the long term. And I'm not happy that Obama's policies have been to basically patch the system as it is, and push any resolution of its current contradictions further down the road. There will be a real crisis (a much bigger one than last year's) at some point in the future, but it's hard to tell if it's going to be next year or in a decade. Many people think authorities did a good job in avoiding the worst following last year's financial collapse, and that we're now back on the right track; if you're one of them, then the criticism of Obama as a hostage (or, if you're less kind, ally) to the banking lobby makes little sense and I fully appreciate that. [emphasis added]
December 1, 2009
My take on Obama's speech is that Bush left Obama little choice on how to proceed, and this is the best that can be done with it.
Bush had the chance to conclude Afghanistan years ago but neglected it, just like how he let bin Laden go, because he had his agenda with Iraq. So the Taliban came back. And here we are.
I don't see any alternative to the strategy that Obama outlined. The people of Afghanistan want peace and security. If we "just leave" they get the Taliban instead, and we get decades of insecurity from the region.
Americans form the region also deserve to see security brought to Afghanistan because they can't even go home and visit their families. etc. without falling under suspicion.
November 24, 2009
Is Obama losing you?
November 22, 2009
This is really funny, except it was Bush, not Obama, who borrowed all that money from China, and who bailed out the banksters.
November 16, 2009
"China on Monday accused the United States of increasing protectionism..."Think about it, the country with the massive trade surplus accuses the country with the massive trade deficit of being "protectionist." Call it The Audacity Of Projection.
Our trade opponents have learned that all they have to do is shout the word “protectionist” and their American enablers will quickly run from doing anything that might help American companies and workers. But what happens later, when the consequences start hitting home? Do the "free trade" shouting, foreign-competition enablers take the blame and accept responsibility when Amercan dollars are spent overseas and American workers lose jobs and American factories close? Who could have known that they would point the finger at the President instead of themselves?
Here is what I am talking about:
On February 8, 2009, during the debate over the stimulus package, the conservative Washington Times joined the "free trade" chorus, denouncing the package's proposed "Buy American" requirements as the same kind of "protectionism" that conservative mythology says caused the Great Depression: EDITORIAL: How to cause a depression,
...Tucked within the economic stimulus bill the House passed last week was a clause requiring state and local public works agencies to buy American iron and steel for their reconstruction projects, and the Senate expanded it to all manufactured goods.Conservative free-traders got what they demanded. In response to these and other cries of “protectionism!” the Senate backed away from the Buy American clause, changing it to vague language requiring that the money be spent in ways consistent with existing treaties.
[. . .] The stimulus bill has a way to go before it reaches Mr. Obama's desk, but if strong "buy American" mandates are present at that time, he will have no choice but to veto the bill. Otherwise, he will be forever known as Barack H. (Hoover or Hawley) Obama.
Since this wording gives the President some discretion in how the money is spent conservatives started demanding the President spend it ... outside of the country. For example, a Washington Times editorial on March 24, EDITORIAL: The Mexican-American War of 2009, ended by blasting President Obama for wanting American stimulus dollars to stimulate America's economy:
"Wasn't Mr. Obama going to be the "international" president who was going to get the rest of the world to love us? The path to improving relations does not involve destroying jobs in other countries as well as in our own."So now it turns out that many stimulus dollars are being spent according to the wishes of the "free trade" conservatives, with money to purchase wind turbines creating jobs in Europe and China, and who could have known, the very same free-trade conservatives are JUST OUTRAGED that President Obama is sending American stimulus dollars out of the country! For example, a Washington Times editorial on November 13, EDITORIAL: Stimulus creates jobs in China, begins,
Of the $1 billion in clean-energy stimulus money spent since the beginning of September, $850 million has gone to foreign wind companies. It doesn't take a bunch of experts at a hastily planned "jobs summit" to discover this isn't the way to bolster employment in America.Yes, how DARE they not require that American stimulus dollars be spent in America! This from the very same Washington Times editors who earlier in the year demanded exactly that.
Indeed, the 11 U.S. wind farms that received stimulus money from the Treasury have imported 695 of the 982 wind turbines to be installed, creating 4,500 jobs overseas. That's far more overseas work than the stimulus money has created in the United States.
Who could have known that conservatives would attack President Obama for the consequences of giving in to conservative demands??!! The Washington Times was against protectionism before they were for it. Call it The Audacity Of Hypocrisy.
The lesson to be learned here is to stop listening to these conservative, "free trade" clowns. They are only interested in making the rich richer at the expense of the rest of us and will say whatever advances that goal. We should start just doing what is right for the country, our workers, our factories, our companies and our jobs.
October 9, 2009
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by Europeans. Europe doesn't have America's corporate media filtering everything we "know."
Europeans understand that defeating the Republicans was a very, very big deal for peace in the world.
October 5, 2009
The public perception of President Obama's accomplishments is firming up:
"Jack and Squat."
Oh, hey, what about those Wall Street bonuses? Good job doing something about that.
September 22, 2009
Not my choice of words. A European paper declares Obama the impotent because of US inaction on climate and financial reform.
The reason for the Congressional inaction on these issues is corporate money and Obama's insistence on "bipartisanship." Since the Republican Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of big corporations, this means Obama is insisting on the big corporations telling the rest of us what to do.
I will be covering the G20 this week from Pittsburgh, where topic number one is U.S. financial reform.
September 5, 2009
Watch this video: "We need a fighter."
I strongly suspect that last week's news on Obama backing off the public option led to a perception that Obama is weak, and backs down when intimidated, and was part of the calculation that led to this: West Bank settlement growth looks likely and this: North Korea: Uranium Program Near Completion
If you back off from bullies they don't just go away. Apparently Obama needs to learn this, and fast.
August 30, 2009
I trust President Obama's instinct and leadership. Unfortunately I am realizing that I don't trust his judgment in advisors. It is becoming clear that he has surrounded himself with a groupthink crowd of disloyal, corporate-influenced careerists who do not share our long-term progressive vision. They are sheltering the President from hearing progressive viewpoints, and are advising short-term political approaches to problems rather than risking his offering a moral basis for positions that they fear are outside the "mainstream" of Limbaugh-influenced Americans.
August 18, 2009
Barack Obama is throwing his entire base under the bus in a vain attempt to try to get Republicans to like him, to work with him, to help him succeed. He does not understand that it is the role of today's Republican Party to pummel Democrats into submission. In throwing the public option overboard, Obama has shown himself to the Republicans as a wuss -- and they are going to treat him like one.
[. . .] And the one thing I will tell the Obama Administration is that there are a lot of us out here who worked hard to put them in office. And if they fuck with us we will not hesitate to work to get them out of there and put in someone who understands that when the American people hand you a vote of confidence like the one Barack Obama and the Democrats were given, you do not respond by asking Republicans to please kick you again.
August 8, 2009
The mystery is solved: Barack Obama murdered Vince Foster.
It should have been obvious all along. Of course Hillary could not have murdered Vince Foster in a secret "love nest" apartment. She had her agent Barack Obama do it for her. And Barack Obama put Vince Foster's body into the trunk of a car and drove it to the park where it was "found".
Barack Obama was also secretly smuggling cocaine from an airstrip in Arkansas. He held up traffic at the LA Airport while he got a $500 haircut. He fired the people in the Travel Office so he could give the job to a cousin. He sold plots in Arlington National Cemetery. He accepted secret money from China and transferred out nuclear secrets to the Chinese government.
Barack Obama betrayed us at Yalta.
Now Barack Hussein Obama is setting up Death Panels. This is the whole purpose, the culmination of the plan, the final chapter of health insurance reform, of killing Vince Foster, of smuggling cocaine and selling cemetery plots and taking over the travel office and selling nuclear secrets to China and engaging in the Whitewater scheme and shredding the Rose Law Firm files and crossing the border during the Korean War, and putting the microfilm in the pumpkin: It was, along with George Soros the Jew and other Hell-Demons, to finance the takeover so he could finally set up Death Panels across the country where the true American Patriots will be tried and summarily executed so that the Socialist Elders of the demon-gogs could ARISE and control our minds and sell our ports, and sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids, and put Big Government Labor Bosses over the Silent Majority when he hypnotized the weak from his Pergamon Altar Nazi Pulpit Greek columns in Denver! It is OBVIOS!
Barack Obama has a lot to answer for.
April 27, 2009
Earlier I commented on the case of Rep. Harman. Anyone else caught with this appearance of a crime would be investigated by the Justice Department, and maybe prosecuted if the investigation showed reason to do so. I can understand that the Bush admin, the way they operated, may have discovered an opportunity to exchange letting her off the hook for getting her help (also known as blackmail) but is the Obama Justice Dept. investigating these allegations against Harman? (As well as the allegation that the Bush Justice Dept didn't?) If not, why not?
The other day the story in the press was that President decided not to let the Justice Dept. investigate and maybe prosecute people in the CIA. I hope this is not the case, because this would be inappropriate political interference with the Justice Dept. If a crime is committed it must be investigated and, if warranted, prosecuted - no matter who is involved and no matter whether the President likes it or not. That is how rule of law works.
It is my hope that we are returning to rule of law, and the Justice Dept is back to properly doing its job without political interference, and is investigating the allegations that the Bush admin tortured people, and is investigating whether to prosecute Rep. Harman.
If not, we have just swapped one politicized Justice Dept. for another. And we continue to have a country where some people are above the law and the rest of us are beneath it.
April 21, 2009
Atrios makes a very important point: The President is not supposed to say that someone should or should not be prosecuted.
We have a system of justice that is supposed to be independent of politics and individuals. It is improper for a President to say that someone will or will not be prosecuted. No one is supposed to be above the law.
I hope Atrios doesn't mind if I pay him the complement of repeating his post in full:
I'm so old I can remember those ancient days when it was accepted that the Justice Department was independent from the president, that the Attorney General and others should make decisions absent political considerations, and that when it seemed as if independence might not be possible, the AG should recuse him/herself and appoint a special prosecutor.This is an example of just how badly Bush and the Republicans distorted our system, when everyone later takes it for granted that this is how things are done. It is also an example of why we need to investigate and prosecute lawbreaking. If you don't lay down the law the things that are allowed to slide become the norm.
I'm not the first person to bring this up recently, but the point is that it shouldn't be Obama's and Rahm Emmanuel's decision whether to prosecute anybody. If there's suspicion and clear evidence that people broke laws, an inquiry should begin. If the AG feels undue pressure from President Change and his gang then he should appoint a special prosecutor to try to wall off the investigation from political pressure.
Update - I see that Glenn Greenwald wrote about this at Salon,
Whether to commence criminal investigations and prosecutions of specific acts of alleged criminality is not Obama's decision to make. It is the duty of the Justice Department, and ultimately the Attorney General, to make those decisions based strictly on legal considerations, and independent of the political interests of the White House. Whether or not Obama favors prosecutions is really irrelevant, and one could almost reasonably argue that the increasingly aggressive pressure he and his aides, such as Rahm Emanuel, have been exerting to impede prosecutions was becoming improper.BUT adds that, to Obama's credit,
Clearly, Obama today -- in the face of rising rapidly pressure to investigate -- seems to have re-considered that approach. Obama just plainly contradicted what Rahm Emanuel said over the weekend and what Robert Gibbs said yesterday when he announced this afternoon -- appropriately so -- that the decision of whether to prosecute Bush lawyers who authorized torture ("those who formulated those legal decisions") was one for the Attorney General, and not Obama, to make, and that Obama did not want to "prejudge" that question.
March 20, 2009
President Obama was sworn in two months ago. Here's a short clip from Media matters about the "honeymoon" he enjoyed:
March 19, 2009
Deep thought: Obama took the Oath of Office on January 20. Today is March 19.
Everything is Obama's fault. And Clinton's.
March 14, 2009
Is President Obama a "socialist?"
During the campaign this accusation was everywhere. According to Google there are currently 4,700,000 sites on the web with the words "Obama" and "Socialist." A couple of pre-election examples: Obama’s International Socialist Connections "Blogger Steve Bartin, who has been following Obama's career and involvement with the Chicago socialists, has uncovered a fascinating video showing Obama campaigning for openly socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.", Is Obama a socialist? "Obama has declared that he believes every person has a "right" to health care. The Socialist Party USA believes every person has a "right" to health care."
As silly as those pre-election accusations were, now it is Republican leaders making the claim that President Obama is a socialist,
Obama's plans are "one big down payment on a new American socialist experiment," asserts House minority leader John Boehner. He's "the world's best salesman of socialism," says Republican Senator Jim DeMint.Never mind that Republicans don't even know that "socialism" means public ownership of the means of production, operated for the benefit of society and the people-at-large instead of for the profit of a select few. Of course, no one is talking about that, not even the Republicans making the direct "socialist" accusations. They mean something they call "European-style socialism,"
The five-term Republican said that he has gotten praise from his constituents for opposing the stimulus and warned that the country may succumb to "European-style socialism."
As we all know, when Republicans get on a talking point, they all get on it, almost as if someone were telling them to. Other examples of recent Republican accusations that Obama is taking us to "European-style socialism," here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and I'm only stopping because my fingers are getting tired.
So, let's take a look at whether Obama meets the Republican definition of a "European-style socialist" by comparing what we have in the U.S. to some of the things that "socialist" Europe offers to its citizens: (Note - Europe is not socialist...)
National health care system assuring every citizen has equal access to quality care? NO.
Five-six weeks mandatory vacation for everyone? NO.
Extended maternal leave for new parents? NO.
Day care provided for children? NO.
Fair(er) wages for all workers? NO.
Shorter, less stressful working hours? NO.
More even distribution of the benefits of the economy? NO.
Government services for citizens instead of a select few. NO.
Retirement at a relatively young age? NO.
Retirement with a good pension? NO.
Citizens having a say in how the economy is managed? NO.
Citizens protected from predatory corporations? NO.
So, even though the accusation was absurd on the face of it, even comparing Obama's policies to some of the "socialist" things offered to the people in Europe, Obama is not a socialist.
March 12, 2009
They will be showing where the money goes in the spring, as the agencies start reporting in.
Has your local newspaper, TV or radio news told the public about Recovery.gov, or are they instead telling people what Britney is wearing?
February 28, 2009
After a month in office President Obama talks about his upcoming budget, and the battle ahead. "It also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington."
This is a big deal. Watch this weekly radio address:
Here is a call to action: Get friends and family to watch this and future Presidential weekly addresses, and ask them to get their friends and family to do so as well.
Two years ago, we set out on a journey to change the way that Washington works.
We sought a government that served not the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few, but the middle-class Americans I met every day in every community along the campaign trail – responsible men and women who are working harder than ever, worrying about their jobs, and struggling to raise their families. In so many town halls and backyards, they spoke of their hopes for a government that finally confronts the challenges that their families face every day; a government that treats their tax dollars as responsibly as they treat their own hard-earned paychecks.
That is the change I promised as a candidate for president. It is the change the American people voted for in November. And it is the change represented by the budget I sent to Congress this week.
During the campaign, I promised a fair and balanced tax code that would cut taxes for 95% of working Americans, roll back the tax breaks for those making over $250,000 a year, and end the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas. This budget does that.
I promised an economy run on clean, renewable energy that will create new American jobs, new American industries, and free us from the dangerous grip of foreign oil. This budget puts us on that path, through a market-based cap on carbon pollution that will make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy; through investments in wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient American cars and American trucks.
I promised to bring down the crushing cost of health care – a cost that bankrupts one American every thirty seconds, forces small businesses to close their doors, and saddles our government with more debt. This budget keeps that promise, with a historic commitment to reform that will lead to lower costs and quality, affordable health care for every American.
I promised an education system that will prepare every American to compete, so Americans can win in a global economy. This budget will help us meet that goal, with new incentives for teacher performance and pathways for advancement; new tax credits that will make college more affordable for all who want to go; and new support to ensure that those who do go finish their degree.
This budget also reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession. Given this reality, we’ll have to be more vigilant than ever in eliminating the programs we don’t need in order to make room for the investments we do need. I promised to do this by going through the federal budget page by page, and line by line. That is a process we have already begun, and I am pleased to say that we’ve already identified two trillion dollars worth of deficit-reductions over the next decade. We’ve also restored a sense of honesty and transparency to our budget, which is why this one accounts for spending that was hidden or left out under the old rules.
I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. In other words, I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:
So am I.
The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t. I work for the American people. I didn’t come here to do the same thing we’ve been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November. That is the change this budget starts to make, and that is the change I’ll be fighting for in the weeks ahead – change that will grow our economy, expand our middle-class, and keep the American Dream alive for all those men and women who have believed in this journey from the day it began.
Thanks for listening.
February 23, 2009
Chris Matthews says that the stock market is a "scorecard" for how Obama is doing. And he says Americans are going to be really mad at Obama because "their" stocks are just going down and down.
Barack Obama didn't elect George Bush, and then elect him again even after it was obvious that a criminal conspiracy was dismantling the government and was looting the treasury. And it was the corporate media that enabled this, not Barack Obama.
So now the problems are really bad. Really bad. And not just the economic problems, the climate problem might be even worse than the economic problems.
Barack Obama has been in office one month now. We are all going to have to grow up, make sacrifices, stop being consumers and start getting involved, and pitch in to solve the country's problems.
And you, with your million-plus-dollar paycheck, if you can't grow up, just shut up. Really.
February 17, 2009
The Obama administration has put up a new website, Recovery.gov, to help people track how the recovery/stimulus money is spent.
From the site:
Recovery.gov is a website that lets you, the taxpayer, figure out where the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going. There are going to be a few different ways to search for information. The money is being distributed by Federal agencies, and soon you'll be able to see where it's going -- to which states, to which congressional districts, even to which Federal contractors. As soon as we are able to, we'll display that information visually in maps, charts, and graphics.
February 12, 2009
Obama has been President for, what, three weeks now?
February 5, 2009
By now, it's clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression. Millions of jobs that Americans relied on just a year ago are gone; millions more of the nest eggs families worked so hard to build have vanished. People everywhere are worried about what tomorrow will bring.
What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.
Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.
That's why I feel such a sense of urgency about the recovery plan before Congress. With it, we will create or save more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, provide immediate tax relief to 95 percent of American workers, ignite spending by businesses and consumers alike, and take steps to strengthen our country for years to come.
This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending -- it's a strategy for America's long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, health care and education. And it's a strategy that will be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability, so Americans know where their tax dollars are going and how they are being spent.
In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.
I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long. And because we have, our health-care costs still rise faster than inflation. Our dependence on foreign oil still threatens our economy and our security. Our children still study in schools that put them at a disadvantage. We've seen the tragic consequences when our bridges crumble and our levees fail.
Every day, our economy gets sicker -- and the time for a remedy that puts Americans back to work, jump-starts our economy and invests in lasting growth is now.
Now is the time to protect health insurance for the more than 8 million Americans at risk of losing their coverage and to computerize the health-care records of every American within five years, saving billions of dollars and countless lives in the process.
Now is the time to save billions by making 2 million homes and 75 percent of federal buildings more energy-efficient, and to double our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy within three years.
Now is the time to give our children every advantage they need to compete by upgrading 10,000 schools with state-of-the-art classrooms, libraries and labs; by training our teachers in math and science; and by bringing the dream of a college education within reach for millions of Americans.
And now is the time to create the jobs that remake America for the 21st century by rebuilding aging roads, bridges and levees; designing a smart electrical grid; and connecting every corner of the country to the information superhighway.
These are the actions Americans expect us to take without delay. They're patient enough to know that our economic recovery will be measured in years, not months. But they have no patience for the same old partisan gridlock that stands in the way of action while our economy continues to slide.
So we have a choice to make. We can once again let Washington's bad habits stand in the way of progress. Or we can pull together and say that in America, our destiny isn't written for us but by us. We can place good ideas ahead of old ideological battles, and a sense of purpose above the same narrow partisanship. We can act boldly to turn crisis into opportunity and, together, write the next great chapter in our history and meet the test of our time.
January 27, 2009
I'm curious to know which Republicans, specifically, said they will vote for the bill with more tax cuts added -- like the ones they took out mass transit money for. I'd also like to know which Republicans, specifically, are now promising to vote for the bill with family planning funds removed.
The Republicans say they are being left out of the negotiations -- yet more and more real stimulus is disappearing, and more and more useless Republican-style gimmicks are being added.
Who are they negotiating with, that they are giving more and more away to? If it is buying votes they need, that's OK I guess. If it isn't, I'd like to know more about this interesting strategy.
Or, on the other hand, if Republicans say they aren't going to vote for the bill, will they put mass transit and family planning back in?
January 22, 2009
“Beauty is truth,
that is all Ye know on Earth,
And all ye need to know.”
I’m looking forward to a new reign of truth, a renewed age of transparency,
reason and reasonableness in Political Affairs, and most importantly, restoration of our full civil liberties. So perhaps it is fitting that while I was an on location radio correspondant for WWZN 1510 AM Boston Tuesday morning, at the Inauguration, the young and vivacious 23 year old college student from Dallas I randomly chose to be interviewed out on the Mall in the shadow of the Washington Monument in the bitter cold an hour or so before the Inauguration was named Truth. Truth had supported Obama since the beginning of his campaign. Truth couldn’t help but feel ecstatic and hopeful about the future under Obama’s leadership. She was in Washington along with her Mom, older Sister and Mom’s dear friend.
Sunday morning had begun with breakfast at the hotel with a lovely woman I met in the elevator who traveled here from Alaska to celebrate, and I enjoyed her stories about Alaska politics over scrambled eggs and fruit. Out on the Mall Sunday afternoon at the star- packed “We Are One” concert, I was moved when, after Obama spoke, in a symbolic gesture that to me signals some of the intentions of the new president, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen led the crowd in singing the original pro-labor version of “This Land Is Your Land.” [ BTW- a must see - is the uplifting documentary “The Power of Song” about Pete Seeger’s life and work. There’s a petition online to nominate Seeger for a Nobel Peace Prize, and as I was leaving for Washington, I received an email that Rep. Barbara Lee - 9th District, CA, has agreed to carry Seeger’s nomination and is soliciting specific examples of his work on Peace, Justice, & Environmental Issues by February First. ( Send to: 1301 Clay St. Suite 1000-N Oakland, CA 94612 510-763-0370 ext. 16/ fax 520-763-6538)]
On my way out of the hotel early on Inauguration Day, a family with two little boys rode down on the elevator with me. The five year old suddenly piped up “Aren’t we going to be near the cameras for MSNBC?” Wow! We’re finally bringing up a brand new generation of liberals! It was great to be in crowds of several million people cheering as the new president was sworn in, ending the nightmare that has been the last 8 years. This country has had a collective case of PTSD. Washington has been positively bubbling over with emotion, pride and euphoria since I arrived late Saturday night. The streets, restaurants and hotels have been one big roving party. Complete strangers have been walking up to each other, checking in, sharing these incredible moments, no matter what age, background, race. As someone who lived through the Boston busing crisis while in college, I am so proud of my country and how far it has come in regard to race (I had a first inkling about our progress when Deval Patrick was elected as our Governor. People think of Massachusetts as a progressive bastion, but it has always had a tug of war between “town and gown,” provincialism vs. urbanity, and despite it’s historical part in the underground railroad and it’s institutions such as the W.E.B DuBois Institute, continued racial polarization and separation.)
I realize there are still too many pockets of overt racism in this country, but hope that Obama’s presidency will help to further transcend these issues as it has been experienced in Washington this week. The entire Mall area was packed with millions of people, respectfully peaceful, side by side. I had a Press Pass - graciously thanks to Dave from Seeing the Forest blog but was unable to get anywhere close to a press area as the Mall & environs were already so crowded well before 8 in the morning. I had been invited to stop in at the combined Senators’ Kerry and Kennedy offices Inaugural viewing party at the Dirksen Senate Office Building and another party up Connecticut Avenue above Dupont Circle, but getting around Washington was taking hours by Metro and on foot with many metro stations and roads closed off for security reasons as well as by the Parade, so I never made it to either place. Instead, I sat for a long while over a large cup of coffee warming up after 7 hours outside in the cold. (Thank god for “little hotties” hand and foot warmers that kept us all from freezing out there!) A little bit of sadness interrupted my afternoon when a friend called to tell me that Senator Kennedy had collapsed at the Inaugural luncheon and was taken out to an ambulance on a stretcher having had a seizure. We’re all hoping for our Senator’s health to improve as it is difficult to imagine the Senate without him and know how much he is looking forward to crafting new Universal Health Care Legislation. Later, I celebrated the day again, over dinner and wine with old friends from Cambridge.
It’s been an amazing and emotional experience to be here, to personally witness change to what I hope will be some sort of equilibrium instead of the Orwellian upside-down world we’ve been forced to endure. I realize how enormous the challenges are that we face, particularly the economic meltdown, and I don’t expect overnight miracles, but I am hopeful about Obama’s ability to handle the complexity. I’m so thrilled to have a brilliant president who is worthy of the 21st century (and he has just been allowed to keep his beloved blackberry!)
More highlights of my DC experience:
Sunday afternoon “We Are One” Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial was all wonderful but was particularly moved by Tom Hank’s recitation of Copeland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and Pete Seeger & Bruce Sprinsteen’s ‘This Land is Your Land.”
Monday afternoon volunteered during the “Day of Service” to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., across town at the RFK Stadium, packing care packages and writing letters to our soldiers overseas, where we just missed seeing Governor Patrick and other members of the MA delegation.
Monday evening we enjoyed the Netroots Nation Party over sushi, grape leaves and Martinis at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington keynoted by a rousing speech by Howard Dean about the successful role of the Netroots toward the outcome of the election, and stressing the importance of continued engagement in the process of democracy.
"...the time has come to set aside childish things."
"...As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice
between our safety and our ideals.
Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely
imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the
rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.
Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up
for expedience's sake."
- Obama Inaugural Address
Tuesday Inaugural, Obama’s address bravely included Muslims and non-believers for the first time in an Inaugural speech. A nice start toward including everyone. There was a bit too much Christian religion in the entire event for my taste, (separation of church and state, anyone?) but I make an exception for the closing benediction by Reverend Joseph E. Lowery, one of the original Civil Rights leaders - he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Mobile, Alabama and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950s. I can only begin to imagine how unbelievable this experience has been for him. He opened with lines from what is considered “The Black National Anthem” (“Lift Every Voice and Sing” - first performed in celebration of Lincoln’s birthday in 1900, so the symbolism is doubly great) and he closed his blessing quoting from an old traditional roots blues song:
“…we ask you to help us work for that day when
brown can stick around,
when yellow will be mellow,
when the red man can get ahead, man,
and when white will embrace what is right.
Let all those who do justice and love mercy
Wednesday afternoon, I went to a Roundtable Panel Discussion sponsored by Netroots Nation & Think Progress at the Center For American Progress on “Internet Advocacy” (the role of the Netroots and technology in governance over the next four years) with a booksigning by Mike Lux, one of the five panelists, for his new book, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best In America Came To Be.
L to R: Michael Lux,Cheryl Contee, Amanda Terkel, Sam Graham-Felsen, Ari Melber.
That evening I met some friends from Pittsburgh, for dinner at a Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown. I am still savoring the week, both teary and bleary eyed while I get ready to drive back to Massachusetts today. What a fantastic week it has been!
January 21, 2009
(The other day I hinted that I had something coming from the inauguration. Here it is, with lots of photos on the extended entry page -- Dave J.)
I'm Nancy Weinberg. I blog at Nancy's News Network (except lately have been working hard on the election and post-election...). I worked on the Election Protection Wiki project with Dave, and when Dave learned I would be in DC for the inauguration he asked me to get some pictures and post here.
I’m politically active at home, involved in fund-raising campaigns with my Democratic Town Committee; I volunteered in Denver during the convention and in Ohio for the Obama Election Protection Team. For the moment, I’m just a girl with a great camera who came to Washington to witness history and celebrate the end of the Bush regime.
Here is part one of my report:
I had a silver ticket from my congressman that guaranteed me a place to stand in the section behind the reflecting pool on the Mall. It would possibly be close enough to distinguish one person from another on the podium through my binoculars; at the least, it would offer me a view of the proceedings on one of the Jumbotrons, and allow those of us lucky enough to be in that section to bear witness to history being made.
I left my hotel at 7 a.m. to walk the 3 miles to the “silver” gate. (And, yes, the word “pearly” came to mind.) The route took me under the National Mall, through the closed-to-traffic 3rd Street tunnel.
Entering the tunnel:
Inside the tunnel:
As I neared the gate I saw the line snaking east and I followed it, past one corner, then west to the next, block after block to the end. When I first saw it, it was moving along, but it stopped to a crawl soon after I joined it, midway down a block lined with tour buses, most with engines running, empty save a driver. The fumes were horrible, although one could forgive the smell and feel grateful for a moment or two of heat as the line inched by a running engine. For over an hour, I watched people stream passed me to the end of the line, now stretched out of sight, around many corners. Around 10, the line started to move and as we rounded the last block, it seemed as though people were joining the line from different directions. Rumors that the gate was closed shot through the crowd, which had changed from an orderly 11 block-long (at least) line into a sea of anxious, freezing, weary wanna-bes crushed into a block-long and wide space. Someone started shouting, “Let us in!” and it became a chant with the crowd punching the air with their embossed silver-edged invitations on each word. LET! US! IN! These people—all of them—privileged to be honored by their congressmen and women with what they thought was a guaranteed place at the party, had been shut out by an anonymous ogre at the gate. I recalled Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing the words of Woody Guthrie on Sunday:
A great high wall there tried to stop me
A great big sign there said private property
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing
That side was made for you and me.
I got a text message from a friend who had a purple ticket. She, too, was reporting gates were closed in front of her, and was headed to the Dirksen Senate Office Building where Senators Kerry and Kennedy had promised a place to watch the proceedings and stay warm to those who couldn’t attend outdoors. It was 10:40. I fought the crowd, which was beginning to feel like the crush on New Year’s Eve in Times Square—something I experienced once long ago and vowed never to do again—for a block and escaped, heading to Capital Hill. I had to go behind the Capitol and down the other side, which took about half an hour (someday I’ll walk it at a normal pace to see how long it really takes) and get through security at the entrance. I couldn’t remember where I was supposed to go and asked if anyone knew where there was a TV. I was directed to a small cafeteria in the basement corridor between the Dirksen and Rayburn Buildings.
Gathered there were about 20 people who, for one reason or another, had happened upon the place. All eyes on a small TV that the owner proudly announced she had installed the day before so her customers would be able to watch the ceremony.
Cups and Company:
'Tis a Gift:
Everyone, including me, was happy to be there. We instantly became a community, devoted to sharing this moment in history. We cheered, clapped, prayed, amen’d, and shared smiles and tears. We stood when Obama took the oath of office. When I said, “Bye-bye Bush!” as his helicopter took him away, someone said Alleluiah! I'd have driven to Washington from Boston just to be with those people at that time, and I can’t think of anywhere I’d have rather been. It was worth a ticket edged in gold to be among the people in that room.
January 20, 2009
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
At 12:01pm EST, as Barack Obama took the oath of office to become President of the United States of America, the White House website, whitehouse.gov, switched over to its new format. The list of menu items on that website includes "Our Government." It is OUR government, the People of the United States joining together to manage our affairs.
One feature of the new website is a blog. The first post at the blogs promises Communication, Transparency and Patricipation. For example,
"One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it."It is OUR government, and a new era has begun.
Click through to Speak Out California.
I'm told that at exactly 12:01EST the White House website changes over to the new Obama site.
January 18, 2009
Summary: Bush's inauguration cost $42 million. Obama's will cost $45 million. Everything else you are hearing is just more of the same old right-wing propaganda.
January 10, 2009
In this week's address, President-elect Barack Obama highlights the challenges facing our struggling economy and introduces a report being drafted by Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein.Transcript:
We start this new year in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. We learned yesterday that in the past month alone, we lost more than half a million jobs – a total of nearly 2.6 million in the year 2008. Another 3.4 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs. And families across America are feeling the pinch as they watch debts mount, bills pile up and savings disappear.
These numbers are a stark reminder that we simply cannot continue on our current path. If nothing is done, economists from across the spectrum tell us that this recession could linger for years and the unemployment rate could reach double digits – and they warn that our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world.
It’s not too late to change course – but only if we take immediate and dramatic action. Our first job is to put people back to work and get our economy working again. This is an extraordinary challenge, which is why I’ve taken the extraordinary step of working – even before I take office – with my economic team and leaders of both parties on an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will call for major investments to revive our economy, create jobs, and lay a solid foundation for future growth.
I asked my nominee for Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Christina Romer, and the Vice President-Elect’s Chief Economic Adviser, Dr. Jared Bernstein, to conduct a rigorous analysis of this plan and come up with projections of how many jobs it will create – and what kind of jobs they will be. Today, I am releasing a report of their findings so that the American people can see exactly what this plan will mean for their families, their communities, and our economy.
The report confirms that our plan will likely save or create three to four million jobs. 90 percent of these jobs will be created in the private sector – the remaining 10 percent are mainly public sector jobs we save, like the teachers, police officers, firefighters and others who provide vital services in our communities.
The jobs we create will be in businesses large and small across a wide range of industries. And they’ll be the kind of jobs that don’t just put people to work in the short term, but position our economy to lead the world in the long-term.
We’ll create nearly half a million jobs by investing in clean energy – by committing to double the production of alternative energy in the next three years, and by modernizing more than 75% of federal buildings and improving the energy efficiency of two million American homes. These made-in-America jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, developing fuel-efficient cars and new energy technologies pay well, and they can’t be outsourced.
We’ll create hundreds of thousands of jobs by improving health care – transitioning to a nationwide system of computerized medical records that won’t just save money, but save lives by preventing deadly medical errors. And we’ll create hundreds of thousands more jobs in education, equipping tens of thousands of schools with 21st century classrooms, labs and computers to help our kids compete with any worker in the world for any job.
We’ll put nearly 400,000 people to work by repairing our infrastructure – our crumbling roads, bridges and schools. And we’ll build the new infrastructure we need to succeed in this new century, investing in science and technology, and laying down miles of new broadband l
ines so that businesses across our nation can compete with their counterparts around the world.
Finally, we won’t just create jobs, we’ll also provide help for those who’ve lost theirs, and for states and families who’ve been hardest-hit by this recession. That means bi-partisan extensions of unemployment insurance and health care coverage; a $1,000 tax cut for 95 percent of working families; and assistance to help states avoid harmful budget cuts in essential services like police, fire, education and health care.
Now, given the magnitude of the challenges we face, none of this will come easy. Recovery won’t happen overnight, and it’s likely that things will get worse before they get better.
But we have come through moments like this before. We are the nation that has faced down war, depression and fear itself – each time, refusing to yield; each time, refusing to accept a lesser fate. That is the spirit that has always sustained us – that belief that our destiny is not written for us, but by us; that our success is not a matter of chance, but of our own courage and determination. Our resources may be finite, but our will is infinite. And I am confident that if we come together and summon that great American spirit once again, we will meet the challenges of our time and write the next great chapter in our American story.
December 29, 2008
Go see Food Democracy Now and sign the petition asking for good appointments for a Sustainable USDA! (US Dept. of Agriculture)
December 10, 2008
Go to this site, sign in, leave a question, and most important, vote Yes or No on the existing questions before right wingers show up and skew things: Change.gov: The Obama-Biden Transition Team | Open for Questions
December 6, 2008
November 27, 2008
"In a preview of his weekly address, President-elect Barack Obama addressed the nation on the occasion of Thanksgiving, nearly one hundred and fifty years after President Lincoln called for the last Thursday in November to be set aside to acknowledge our blessings. For more information, visit http://change.gov."